Exhibition’s Title: The Locked Room
“The Locked Room” Installation view, Candace Hicks, 2016
Venue: Living Arts, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Exhibition Date: October 7th – 27th, 2016
Artist: Candace Hicks
My background is book arts, which is inherently interactive, and for years I have experimented with non-traditional book materials. Recent projects combine a wide assortment of media to produce an installation that reads like a book and plays like a video game. Exploiting the interactivity of games, the pieces combine to form a puzzle with moving parts and riddles to decipher. Visitors work together in the gallery to solve the puzzles. More and more people are experiencing the reading of books and the playing of games with the same devices now (mobile tablets and smart phones), but this installation brings people together rather than isolating them with their technology. An intimate, personalized experience becomes an immersive and shared experience in the gallery setting.
I exaggerate the tropes of an exhibition that one might expect to see with copious amounts of wall text that communicate a loopy narrative of coincidental occurrences, floor tape that indicates how one should move through the space, and seemingly empty pedestals that actually contain interactive, animated illusions modeled after antique optical toys. It’s a combination that highlights the fact that art is always in some sense surreal and is only activated by the viewer’s attention. The viewer pieces together the clues and follows the repeated elements to make sense of a story told in space. Viewers will solve the clues to find the solution to the puzzle while being immersed in the story. Clues are embedded in the optical illusions and woven into the text. Modeled after popular “escape games,” the final clue unlocks a metaphorical door housed within a door-shaped sculpture. Overall, The Locked Room requires audience participation and interactivity.
The components exploit optical phenomena and make use of illusions. Moving parts are controller by microprocessors and small electronics. Some use hacked toys or record players to animate the interiors. It includes zoetropes, flip books, holograms, and other unnamable inventions such as an Edward Hopper painting built in 3D and made to appear to be floating on the ocean. All of the work was developed from a series of experiments with optical phenomena and a desire to explore the surreal in historical artworks.