Siobhan Coen’s work explores how the human mind works, the perception of reality, and how information is filtered by the mind as well as technology.
She creates immersive installations by reworking elements of digital communications – such as RGB lights (the pixels that make up images) and spoken words – to examine how the manipulation of these elements, rather than the subject matters they communicate, can affect what we perceive to be true.
Unknown Knowns features a monologue constructed from former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld’s self-narrated audiobooks. Rumsfeld’s time in office as US Secretary of Defense during the Iraq war might be seen as the beginning of today’s ‘post-truth’ world. Words and meanings are taken out of context and reconstructed, and through this editing process, Rumsfeld becomes a philosopher, proclaiming his belief in the need to change how people see and create a new reality.
As the audio plays, computer-programmed pulses of red, green and blue light activate a large inkjet print of brightly coloured pixels, which to the human eye becomes a moving image. This hallucinogenic effect suggests both the roots of cyberspace in psychedelic culture and military research, and its effects – the issues of trust, truth and belief at the forefront of today’s political climate.