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(delete where appropriate) : LOCAL/STRANGER

a new interactive artwork by Keith Piper

showing as part of the Terminal Frontiers exhibition by Virtual Migrants for its 2004/5 tour
(to include its world premiere)

 This project, through an exploration of themes of migration, and the historical processes through which diverse communities are formed, will encourage spectator's to critically examine their sense of what defines a 'stranger' as opposed to a 'local'.

The project will be comprised of two gallery based elements. An interactive computer console will encourage the user to 'log in' by name, and choose a category which they feel best describes their current situation through the question 'How best would you describe yourself.. a 'local' or a 'stranger'? Based on their responses the user will be drawn into a series of interactive question and answer scenario's which will progressively challenge notion's of the 'stranger' and the 'local' as discrete and mutually incompatible categories within the context of contemporary fluid and cosmopolitan societies.

Simultaneously, this interactive console will be networked to a second computer which itself will be connected to a large scale video projection system. On this system, a constantly evolving narrative will unfold, comprised of digitally collaged images, animations and texts. This narrative will explore broader historical and contemporary themes of migration and settlement. Using a series of computer based randomising protocols, it will generate a constantly evolving set of texts which will be unique to that specific moment in time.

This projected narrative will also be constantly supplemented by names and other informational details entered by users of the interactive console and uploaded to the display computer via the network. In this way, the personalised input of individual users of the system will be added to the 'grand narrative' of migration and settlement being projected large into the space. The private 'micro-narratives' formed out of the individual perspectives of the users will inform the 'macro-narrative' of the large scale 'public' projection in order to create a complex and ever evolving picture of migration and settlement.

Keith Piper is a practicing visual artist who for the past two decades has sought to critically explore the historical development and contemporary manifestations of notions of racial difference, and the multiple ways in which those notions impact upon contemporary culture.  'Delete where appropriate: Local/Stranger' is part of an ongoing series of works exploring issues of racial classification, especially where those issues overlap with popular perceptions of migrants and their impact upon evolving communities.