How would you react if someone started behaving inappropriately, or aggressively? Do you try to pretend it isn’t happening, or protest and take action? This is the question posed by It’s a jungle in here, an interactive installation that puts two people into a simulated environment and has them respond to a series of increasingly unsettling encounters.
Participants sit down at an ornate wooden booth and, donning headphones, place their heads in one of two portholes in the front panel. On a screen inside the cabinet they see a stop-motion animation of paper characters on a train, two of which have a live video-feed of the face of each participant from a webcam inside the cabinet.
Three stories unfold, one after the other. Each person is cast as victim or attacker. As the stories progress through user interaction they become more aggressive and tense. At the climax of each scenario the attacker transforms into an animal, cathartically venting our shared anxiety through the iconography of ancient fables.
Participants interact with the work using either a button or a microphone. The person playing the attacker presses a large button to continue their actions at various points. The person playing the victim can shout into a microphone to protest.
Ultimately, It’s a jungle in here investigates the use of power and how it is exercised to intimidate others both in real life and on-screen. It explores the relationship between our real selves and an on-screen persona that allows us to use and abuse our power. It’s a jungle in here disrupts the isolation and detachment of this on-screen self by creating an on-screen interaction that is simultaneously a physical interaction with a living, breathing person who is sitting right next to you. Part psychodrama, part multimedia marvel, It’s a jungle in here is a confronting tour of the fragile rules that organize our public lives.
Single channel animation with stereo audio from hard-drive, custom software, electronics, plywood booth, headphones, seat.
Coding and interface electronics: Matthew Gingold
Carpentry: Don Russell
Soundtrack: Finn Robertson
Additional coding: Oliver Marriott
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.