Truth Serum was commissioned by Jens Hauser for FACT, Liverpool for the exhibition that sought to explore notions of borders in art and technology – ‘sk-interfaces’. Focusing on the way in which art and biotech art has itself become suspect within the security system, the work drew on the ethical implications of what we perceived as an ‘invasive aesthetic’. In particular, the work attempted to draw attention to the plight of artist Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble, who was in the process of being prosecuted in the USA for crimes relating to terrorism, a notorious case of a hysterical security system and its rhetoric of fear. The piece uses this element of fear to probe a psychological space and question our physio-ilogical response. The psychological techniques used drew on issues relating to conflict resolution between cognitive systems.
As a piece of work, the project was staged as an installation and performance experiment. It was devised so it that involved the use of consensual abduction, psychological probing and finally, a mild form of automated electronic interrogation ( based on a psychological model used in stroop tests). Some subjects undertaking the performance experiment took the drug scopolamine, allegedly used by the CIA an FBI as a truth serum, while others were in corresponding control groups. These events were undertaken ‘off-site’ (outside of a regulated space in a disued warehouse in Liverpool). An installation that drew on films and data was later exhibited in an installation at Casino Foundation for Contemporary Art in Luxembourg in 2009.
The work was developed with Dr. Nicolas Langlitz who undertook research into the history and use of truth serums, and whose essay in the accompanying catalogue outlined this in relation to the work of the Office of Experiments.
Significantly, the work introduced Randy, cipher of Office of Experiments.