The Masks I Wear

ITP Thesis Exploration

This is an investigation to determine if audience interaction changes the impactfulness of a narrative. This study is conducted by way of a one-woman show, utilizing face tracking technologies and interactive elements. The performance explores stories of harassment experienced by women and the power dynamics responsible for it.
— ceh

About the Project

The Masks I Wear is a solo live performance, alternative documentary that explores the harassment experienced by women in industry. The artist has collected personal stories from four women who have experienced harassment in a professional environment and then “wears” projected motion controlled digital masks to portray the collected stories. Each performance sits only four audience members, each paired with a narrative from a different woman. Through the physical interaction of pushing a button, audience members will be able to influence how much of the narrative is told.  This interaction will challenge the audience, putting them in a position of power and control, deciding how much of the emotional story to experience.

The artist sits on a rotating stool with the audience surrounding her in a circle. An element of privacy is added by dividing the space between each audience member, allowing them to feel comfortable with varying degrees of interaction during the performance.  

The artist will be using a combination of facial tracking software and projection mapping to portray the sketched face of the woman that have gone through the harassment or assault.

First full Tilt brush face rigged.

In act one the artist rotates on the stool and gives an introduction for each woman whose story will be told. The audience members will have no ability to interact with the narrative during this act.

In act two the artist will wait for an audience member to request attention to continue telling one of the women’s stories. A short amount of time after starting to tell the story other audience members will be given the opportunity to demand attend from the artist, thus taking control of the narrative. At this time the artist will begin telling the narrative of the demanding audience member that they are paired with. This pattern continues for a set duration.

In the third act, audience members will be able to request attention and have their paired narrative told with no delay between requests. The artist will attempt to keep up with the demand of the audience, and the artist’s end goal is to portray the most important aspects of each story.  Because the narratives are controlled by the demand of the audience, each performance will be unique.

The artist’s goal for this project is to better understand how the audience reacts and feels emotionally when given control to influence the narrative.


Note from the Artist A Call for Stories

I am creating this project because I want to further address the issue of power dynamics and harassment in the industries we work in. It's an awful thing that happens too frequently and it shouldn't be ignored.

I think it is important that these stories of harassment and assault are told to minimize the dehumanization of the individuals so that each story isn’t just labelled as another statistic.

When I worked in the film industry I experienced some awful things and I believe that the way to change these demeaning behaviors is to talk about what happened and how it made us feel. I am a survivor of harassment and assault in the performing arts industry and I think it is important to speak out and push for change in all industries.

If you will let me, I want to share your story to a small live audience on a stage that I will be building myself. Your identity will be protected and the I will work with you to ensure the "mask" I wear is something that you are comfortable with.  I want to work with you to tell your story the right way.

Thank you so much for listening.  I am here for you. Even if you want to talk and not be a part of the project, I am here for you.

Note: Even though this is a live performance, I would like to record and document the show.  I will work with each individual before anything goes live to be sure they are comfortable with the footage.  I can always remove footage if anyone is not comfortable.  This can be discussed further if more clarification is needed