With over 8 million incarcerated individuals, the prison population is one of the fastest growing communities in the world. To rethink the prison cell, however, without challenging the flawed penal system would implicitly endorse existing policies. This installation for the Youprison exhibition addresses the cell-gallery context through the capacity of space to be used as a tool of punishment. The intention is not to improve the cell, but to speculate on a system for which the cell is the smallest instrumental unit.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is confronted with an interactive LCD screen displaying a matrix of crimes organized by their severity and moral ambiguity. After selecting a crime, the screen renders an initial cell design as an interactive panorama. By pointing the screen in any direction, left-right-up-down, the view is displayed as a virtual transparency aligned with the space beyond. As the viewer adjusts the parameters of confinement the image morphs. An interactive formula determines the cell design according to parameters of hard/soft, opacity/transparency and dumb/smart. The viewer is put in a position of judgment, adjusting the cell to determine the appropriate fit between crime and punishment. Once their selection is finalized, it is submitted to an electronic database and the average design selection is calculated and displayed. The viewer is confronted with the difference between their own judgment and the consensus of their peers, highlighting the inherent subjectivity of punishment.
Credited in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro