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Victoria Bradbury

Witch Pricker

Victoria Bradbury

Affiliation: CRUMB, University of Sunderland, Attaya Projects

Key words: code, performativity, witchcraft

Conference activity: Presentation Thurs 10th July

Project Summary:

In Witch Pricker, a visitor is confronted with a series of hand-felted wool strawberries extending from a wall. On a central pedestal sits a button, a pin, and a receipt printer. A visitor begins their interaction by pressing the button, triggering a randomization of each strawberry’s “guilt” or “innocence”. A recorded voice instructs the participant to use the pin to prick each strawberry under her petticoat. As each fruit is pricked, a sound indicates whether or not that strawberry is a “witch”. The number of witches found is tallied by the code and a printed receipt indicates the final total.

Code and object are central to Witch Pricker as together they determine and manage the interaction. The gesture of the prick begins a feedback loop in the mind of the participant while the loop in the code is answered:

If (strawberry x is pricked) {



While humans are capable of very complex reaction, code is scripted, with every possibility pre-determined. In composing code, an artist-programmer must consider how it will affect a participant’s performativity in the space. An installation with custom objects must include instruction (visual, auditory or text-based) for a participant to use bodily learning to engage with an unusual interface.In code-based installation, the programme is magnified when it is woven into the complex capabilities of mind, body, and gesture.


Cox, G. and McLean, A. (2013). Speaking code. 1st ed. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Essinger, J. (2004). Jacquard’s web. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

One question that arises from your project: In Witch Pricker, in what way(s) is performativity expressed in code?