e-motional response #1


e-motional response #1‘ is an interactive installation of 16 books, spread open on the floor in random clusters. As the viewer approaches, the books closest snap shut, while those slightly farther away remain open, their text just out of visual range. Like a bed of clam-shells or cats that invite you to rub their soft bellies – they pull away when you come too close. As the viewer wades into the flock of books, the ones that had first closed reopen.

When the books slam shut many of our feelings towards information and technology might be triggered. These machines have perhaps decided to treat us as a child, censoring the access to knowledge and limiting the amount of information we are allowed to digest. Or, they could also be acting out of consideration; perhaps sensing that exposure to too much information could cause us to shutdown emotionally. Our participation in this process is ‘rewarded’ by the satisfying auditory ‘slam’ of the book covers as we approach. However, this reward might simply be the incidental byproduct of a reaction: self-preservation, gentle denial, or blunt refusal intended to discourage our further interaction.

The books used in the installation are chosen not for their content but as functional and symbolic objects; the significance of the text is less important than communicated by their response to the participating viewer. The behavior of the mechanical parts is reaction based, triggering a response of ‘on or off’, ‘open or closed’. At first, the books offer an invitation share their contents and satisfy the viewer’s curiosity but withhold their information when approached. Although the viewer is denied access to the text within, they may closely examine the mechanics and technology that animate and hold the books tightly shut.

This work was exhibited as part of a 2-person exhibition, ‘Kryptica‘, at Artemisia Gallery in Chicago, in September, 2001 and in Mexico City at the Centro Multimedia, within the Centro Nacional de las Artes from November to December, 2001. Additionally, it was installed in the exhibition ‘Paradise Refracted‘, at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario, from January-March, 2002 and mounted again in May, 2004 for Book Keepers, at Toronto Photographers Gallery,  Toronto, Ontario.

This work was made possible by a Media Arts Production Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.


  • Aluminum, hardcover books, basic stamp, power supply, solenoids, solid state relays, CCTV camera, Macintosh computer, MAX/MSP 4.07, and softVNS


  • 16 sculptures total; 12 x 12 x 9 inches each. Up to 1000 sq. feet when installed as a group.