[2009] Video Installation, 5 TV sets, 5 pedestals painted black, 5 or more pairs of headphones, a row of chairs (the number of which depends on the size of the installation), wall clock*

Martin Heuser’s Interview is a video installation rooted in the artist’s fascination with subtle forms of interrogation. This work is as dark as it is playful, with Heuser continually rediscovering a more subtle balance between the two with each question that he asks. The artist sits hidden off-camera and provokes his subjects with questions such as “Do you know how to cook?” Heuser’s techniques are derived from both CIA interrogation manuals and members of his extended family. A larger sphere of influences would include the writers Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, as well as artist Miriam Bäckström. In Huxleyian terms, the artist speaks of “inflicting pleasure” through such gestures as offering subjects sweets and then ridiculing their table manners. If such tactics are rooted in the subtleties of language, these interrogations become their most powerful when Heuser’s figures of speech dissolve into purely numerical abstractions, such as “Rate yourself as a person, on a scale from 1 to 5.” Here, the interrogations begin to reverberate against their context within a media art exhibition, a context in which the abstractions of numbers and multiplicity cast light upon our increasingly abstract everyday world.

David Crawford

*Originally, the videos were played on DVD players hidden inside the pedestals.

Pictures of the installation [by Aoife Giles] + Video stills:

Interview - installation view. Photo Aoife Giles
Interview - installation view. Photo Aoife Giles
Interview - installation view. Photo Aoife Giles

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