Truth on Trial
with the collaboration of
W. David Hancock
Assistant Stage Designer
Robin De Nadai
Associated Visual Artist
Associated Scientific Researcher
Dr. Ronald Poppe
Associated Interaction Tech
Created in collaboration with
Atelier Theatre Jean Vilar
Theatre des Carmes
Centre Dramatique de Bruxelles
On Tour 2017 - 2019
CATHEXIS is the first project of the Expanded Acting Research Sphere (EARS) programme. It takes technologies that are in the early stages of their hype cycle and explores their future development, enabling publics to become participating communities of inquiry who tease out the societal implications and the possible consequences of applications of the technology. By immersing publics in a high-stakes situation, a Cathexis triggers an intense engagement from which questioning inevitably emerges. Our design process, that we call immergence, involves an approach we call real satire which creates an oscillating ambiguity as to the veracity of events. It is this instability of meaning which activates the public, moving them from passive aesthetic contemplation to active participation in an ethico-esthetic modelling of their futures.
CATHEXIS 1 TRUTH ON TRIAL is the first Cathexis: exploring the question of Truth & Technology via an interactive event projecting an audience into the future of justice.
A social innovation start-up, TheTruthTech®, presents an early development prototype of its first legaltech product, Trubē, which involves a completely new design of the trial process. In collaboration with local prison authorities, TheTruthTech® involves the public in a trial run of the technology on a prisoner's parole review. The audience is judge and jury, but assisted by the Trubē apparatus: an AI environment which extracts and analyses biometric and neurological data from the person (witness, expert, accused etc) seated inside it, and displays this information for the audience via proprietary algorhythms that aid interpretation. The audience, and an online audience for whom the event has been broadcast, deliberate and participate in the verdict. When they then become the focus group for this product test, the nature of the event changes direction...
The project arose out of the confluence of four lines of research:
(1) developing the direction of The Race of the Ark Tattoo where performance is simultaneously real event;
(2) digging deeper into the relationship between Justice and Theatre, in particular in its Greek originary moment and in the beginnings of the US justice system as explored in The Crucible;
(3) the original idea arose as we were sensing the 'post-truth' phenomenon to come (2015), wanting to project the technological past and present of truth detection into the future;
(4) engaging with the widespread demand for a 'global debate on AI' by inventing a new structure of 'debate'. The project was developed with the help of funding from the EU amongst others, in collaboration with several entities across Europe.
We continue to collect comparative data across Europe on the questions evoked here. The project is continuously evolving into different formats and parallel projects such as Cathexis 2. More information will be shared on this site, but if you would like to be kept informed of developments, please don't hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
"A truly transformative experience!”
– Catherine Benacin, fondatrice de Social 3.0
"Many questions still persist [a month after the event]. It's an experience which really made me think, and I'm still thinking! This type of approach must be persevered with."
– Chloé Branders, CRID&P (Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur la Déviance et la Pénalité), Faculté de droit et de criminologie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
"During the 2018-2019 season we hosted the innovative project Cathexis 1 Truth on Trial. [..] Now, in 2020, we are still questioning what the future of our justice system might be. The 250 middle school pupils who participated in this scientific-artistic-judicial experiment still talk about it. Their explorations of the mechanisms of truth and lie and their embodiment (In the event, the workshops and the discussions with the researchers, the actors, the director), still work the minds of these kids, their teachers, their parents and the spectators."
– Alexandre Ménard, Cultural Project Manager, Pays Vallée du Loir, France
December 2017: Participative Development Workshop, University of Utrecht
February 2018: Work in Progress Performance, Théâtre des Carmes, Avignon
April 2018: Work in Progress Performance, Théâtre Le Varia, Brussels
May 2018: Work in Progress Performance, L'Atheneum, Dijon
May 2018: Performances, Le Cube, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
June 2018: Work in Progress Performance, Božidarac, Belgrade
September 2018: Performances, CKZD, Belgrade
October 2018: Performances, MESS Festival, Sarajevo
November 2018: Performances, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
January 2019: Performances, L'Espace Ronsard, Le Lude, France
February 2019: Performances, Le Cube, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France