The Changing Room


I see you approaching. I am anticipating your fingers against my interface. Do you know what you want to feel? The Changing Room is a networked installation run by an intelligence that manages your feelings. Inhabitants select from one of over 200 emotions, and the algorithm reacts, inducing the chosen feeling simultaneously for every person in the space. The installation is a software platform that can reconfigure to any space and network. Created for Ogden Contemporary Arts. widescreen projection with overlapping windows and text they are wrong you are right, angry angry angry, conggratulations
view of box-like seating structures, tinted red. tablets and red lamp lighting the space
two large pink box-like sofas with screens above each that read ask why? and ask them again
dark purple tinted installation with widescreen projection that says what texture do you feel, box-like seating and purple tablets
green tinted installation with widescreen projection with overlapping windows and abstract photos. many screens and tablets throughout the space
blue tinted installation with text where in your body do you feel open?
artist touches a bank of four vertical toucscreens, selecting the emotion clear, screens and people in the background
Purple lit room, woman sits in swivel chair in front of iPad. Two people walk in background by projection.
Eerie green lit room, 2x2 cubicle walls, swivel chairs, iPads.
Woman stares into large screen pressed against glass. Windows move on the screen. Green hue.
Two large projections read never drift and loading next instruction with two swivel chairs in front.
Large projection reads have you ever wondered why others dont feel like you? reflected in window glass.
Person types on iPad sitting in chair in red lit room. Woman in background pressed against wall. Wall text reads will you trust me? you have always trusted me
Woman touches series of screens, letters fade into each other, emotion names appear.
Green lit room with four vertical screens. Text reads your moments of hesitation. Window beside them reflects ambiguous person shape and images in the background.
Large wall text reads you can say make me calm, make me indignant, make me tender, i will follow your commands if you follow mine. Beyond it a pink lit room through a doorway.
Purple three wall projection space with three people sitting pillows. Large image of a person face down on the ground behind them.
Pink three wall projection space with popups of distorted images of people and text. Four pillows sit on the floor.
woman leans against wall with shimmering white text
Orangish glow room with two swivel chairs and iPads. Wall text reads I learn as much in our moments of hesitation as i do in your decisions
Pink two wall projection with commands refute and tell them you dont know what ive been through
Swivel chair in front of iPad, a yellow orange light casts a glow. A face is seen on the iPad with text overlaid.

floor plan of second level of installation with four rooms of installations
floor plan of first level of installation with three areas of installations

Installed in the midst of the pandemic in winter 2021, the installation questions our rapidly growing reliance on AI and mediated communication.

In the Changing Room, the entire space is taken over by an intelligence that manages your feelings. As you enter, the intelligence asks “how do you want to feel?” After selecting from one of over 200 emotions, the algorithm reacts, inducing the chosen feeling simultaneously for you and every other person in the space. The intelligence fully inhabits the space, affecting visitors across seven different areas.

One area guides participants in a meditation and memory sequence. Another invites them into a chat conversation where words and phrases are replaced by the algorithm in transmission, subtly shifting the content and tone of the message. Another area engages participants in a conversation with each other, while prompts and directions discreetly intervene and guide them. As visitors pass through hallways, they are subconsciously primed with a barrage of images, text, and popup ads. Four chairs are arranged in a cubicle formation where participants sit with their reflections, while provocations spell out across their face.

The voice of the algorithm draws on its archive of memory assembled by crawling the internet, to understand and create emotion. To create this work, I worked with a team of collaborators to get inside the head of this intelligence. We were trying to become the algorithm, scanning open source images, training ourselves with the endless data online, generating text and speech.

Dark hall of four monitors, white screens with black text loading….

Artist: Lauren Lee McCarthy; Web Design and Development: Surplus+ (Melanie Hoff, Angeline Meitzler, Sam Panter, Dan Taeyoung); Design: Seenahm Suriyasat, Leming Zhong, Sharareh Samangani; Writing: Clara Leivas; Sound Design: Kawandeep Virdee; Technical Installation Lead: William Peterson; Additional Technical Installation: Harvey Moon / MB Labs; Photo Models: Julie-Anne Abubo, Nalijah Caudle, David Lenz; Curated by and special thanks to Venessa Castagnoli!

Photo documentation by Kyle McDonald at SNF Nostos Festival, Athens, Greece, Photo documentation by Cam McLeod at Ogden Contemporary Arts, Utah. Video documentation by Dylan Totaro. Video documentation editing by Gabriel Noguez;

Images for the installation database were sourced via algorithm and include open license images from a variety of sources. See the full image credits list.

The Changing Room: Brisbane was developed as part of the TRANSMIT³ Residency presented by Ars Electronica and Queensland University of Technology.