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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) {

witchCount++;

}

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.

References:

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?