Nosce Te Ipsum
Interactive Installation

Tiffany Holmes
University of Michigan

When you enter the darkened installation space, you view a projection on a large scrim suspended from the ceiling. The image consists of a simple contour drawing of an androgynous human figure.

As you move closer to the image, you see a line of words across a floor dotted with circular targets. As you walk forward, following the words, you trip a pressure sensor that triggers a change in the animation. Suddenly, layers pull back and reveal that beneath the drawn body lies an interior composed of flesh, letters, words, and marks. Stepping on each target triggers another sensor, and a continued shift in the animation as the body folds back on itself revealing layers of images that give way to further images. Upon stepping on the final sensor, your face, filmed in real time from a video camera, appears beneath the embedded layers.

Nosce Te Ipsum invites you, the viewer, to examine a representation of yourself as constructed by the artist. However, in order to reveal the final image, you must participate in the dissective process in a cooperative manner. Your steps, timed as you choose, alter the projected body, penetrating the palimpsests of imagery that pull back, one after another, to reveal your face within the larger work. Stepping away from the projection reverses the process, causing the layers to rapidly fuse, hiding your face in layers of imagery.

The layers of information that compose the digital apparition have many sources. Some have been hand rendered, others appropriated from a variety of sources - medical textbooks, popular magazines, old dictionaries. The layers are dynamic, changing as different people interact with the virtual subject.

The multiple skins of visual information that comprise the interior of the projected body raise questions about the boundaries of bodies and their significance. As the viewer interacts with Nosce Te Ipsum, layers of virtual skin are peeled back, drawing attention to the ways in which bodies both reveal and conceal, providing distinct modes of knowledge through interaction.