White Lies focuses on two unassumed daily factors in my life: whiteness and surveillance. Google searches, airport screenings, emails, facial recognition, Facebook posts, exist as white noise, a constant invisible force on the periphery. What if the technology of the cloud, the physical invasiveness of surveillance, and the imprint of white privilege were foregrounded. What white lies do I tell to feel safe and secure? The work features sound design by Ben Coleman and is informed with collaborator Kayla Hamilton.

The experience unfolded in a small conference room (15 ft x 15 ft) for 12 audience members. Everyone was screened prior to entry and their phones confiscated. Audiences sat facing their phones mounted inside clear sleeves. Prior to the performance starting, I hacked into each phone to begin recording a video in selfie mode. Placing each phone one sleeve over, each audience member was recorded on their neighbor’s phone, losing access to their digital image following the experience. The majority of the performance is experienced in the dark with the emphasis on Coleman’s sound-score mixed for a four-channel stereo.

The performances were also live-streamed as part of the experience. Archived performances can be watched on Periscope @katespeerdance.

Credits

  • Concept and performance: Kate Speer
  • Sound Design: Ben Coleman
  • Informant: Kayla Hamilton
  • Videography: Julie Rooney
  • Voices: Levi Arithson, James Brunt, Andre Carbonell (aka Hakeem Furious), Juntae TeeJay Hwang
  • Texts: Ta-Nehishi Coates, Between the World and Me; Claudia Rankine, Citizen