An Ideal for Living is a sound installation and intervention that periodically broadcasts announcements in public spaces. The announcements are modelled on public service announcements (PSAs) and their content is drawn from political speeches, institutional Tweets, news articles, advertising, personality profiles from self-help books and personality assessment tests popular in the corporate workplace. These include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, DiSC Management Strategies, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), the IPIP-NEO Personality Test and others.
Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing (Forer, B.R. (1949). The Fallacy of Personal Validation: A classroom Demonstration of Gullibility, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, pp. 44, 118-121).
In the late 1940s the psychologist Bertram R. Forer discovered that people tend to accept vague and general descriptions of themselves, especially if they were pronounced by an authority, without considering that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.
Is obedience to authority a matter of confidence in that authority, or is authority produced in ideological structures and modes of transmission? In the pervasive but invisible medium of the public announcement, the disembodied voice is immediately internalised. The voice holds powerful sway over the listener, from the inside.
As a mechanical reproduction, the recorded voice has verisimilitude and carries the force of credibility, combining authenticity with authority. Does the personal, intimate and often offensive content of the announcements subvert the functional convention of public announcements?
You are outgoing, talkative, convivial, warm and affectionate, energetic, and vigorous, high-spirited, buoyant, and optimistic. But these factors coalesce into pathologically inflexible, repetitious, and persistent. (American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association)
You can become pessimistic, sullen, peevish and materialistically self-centred if circumstances force you to struggle in any way. (Cosmopolitan (2004). Horoscopes, July 2004)
You are able to feel secure and content if you think highly of yourself. However, maintenance of the belief that you are superior, often without commensurate achievements, can create a painful disparity between your genuine and your illusory competence. (Sam Vaknin. (1999-2005). Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, sixth, revised printing. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication)
THE AUTHORITIES Bill Aitchison, Karen Barnes, Paul Clayton, Angel Daden, James DC, Patrick Lyons, Camden McDonald, Lola Olafisoye, Brian Steel, James Stevens, Yalda Valizadeh
EXHIBITIONS HER MASTER’S VOICE PRESENTS: AN IDEAL FOR LIVING, Goldsmiths College (Goldsmiths Library, New Academic Building, Ben Pimlott Building), London, 2012
COURTESY The artist
Sophia Kosmaoglou Her Master’s Voice Presents: AN IDEAL FOR LIVING (2012)
Three site-specific multi-channel sound installations. Speakers, mp3 players, amplifiers, cables, dimensions variable.