The Backster Experiment
The Backster Experiment - Installation Shot
Timelapse video of setting up:
The Backster Experiment is a re-imagining of some of the work that Cleve Backster did in the 1960s with plants and polygraph machines.
The work plays with the audience's perception of science, and by specifically using science that is, at best, difficult to believe, the audience is put in a position which leaves them requiring an explanation, and harbouring doubts about the validity of the science being performed.
Ethics within science and art works is often based around ideas of ethical treatment of subjects for experiments, the ethical responsibility of the artist/scientist working doesn't solely lie in this area, however. In The Backster Experiment there is an element of deception which plays on the aforementioned perception of science and scientist as trustable, believable sources of information. Should we question science on a wider level? Or should we just accept it as fact, because of the authority that science and scientists hold, and should artists working in this area be made aware of the pitfalls of elevating their work, through science, to a level of incomprehension.
This work is part of a wider research question about how art can be used to disseminate science, and the problems inherent in working within these two, seemingly opposite, fields. The work also includes constant development and evaluation of the way it is perceived as science, and this will feed back into both this, and future, works.