atomictv David Bickerstaff
Artist, filmmaker and creative director of digital media for narrative environments

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Angry House Angry House Angry House  

Angry House
Commissioned for the
Big Chill art trail, 2008

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Wooden house adapted with sensors, smoke, sound and light

Houses are built to provide shelter and comfort for human beings, making them emotional spaces that link us directly with our identity and social memory. In fairytales and folk stories the house archetype is often subverted and twisted as a ploy to play with our perception of the house as a haven of safety. In the story of the ‘The House of Usher’, Edgar Allen Poe describes a house as if it has a physical persona, telling us it had ‘eye-like windows’ that looked down upon the visitor, filling him with dread. In the German folk tale of Hansel and Gretel, the cruelty of childrens’ family home is later contrasted with the apparent innocence of a Gingerbread house made of cake and sweets, all designed to lure the innocent into the clutches of a cannibalistic witch.

The idea behind Angry House is to create an interactive, performance-based installation, where this notion of the ‘emotional’ house is played out. It looks like a wooden, backyard playhouse, which is designed in a ‘cute’, mini-house style, so it is attractive to children. It sits in on a manicured piece of land, surrounded by trees. It has the appearance of innocence and calm. When no one is around, the house sleeps…all is quiet, except for the wind chimes hanging above the door.

But the house is sentient. It knows when someone approaches and from what direction. Proximity sensors imbedded in the front of the house, detect the distance and movement of the visitor. As they get closer, the house stirs, getting angrier, it growls and bangs the door from inside. Sometimes, a bright light will shoot out of the small windows, projecting shadowy figures onto the adjacent trees. The house will appear to be alive and active, attracting attention with its internal, flickering light and sweet chimes. The Angry House is always locked and visitors can never go in, but curious folk can always peer through the windows at the dark secret within.

The Big Chill Festival - Art Trail 2008
Curator: Alice Sharp
Art Trail artists: Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis, Lucienne Cole, Simon Faithfull, Paul Gittins, Juneau Projects, Kathleeen Herbert, Francis Upritchard, Helen Maurer, Grace Ndiritu, and Melanie Stidolph.

  Atomictv © David Bickerstaff