L'enfer c'est les autres

Augmented reality participative experience


Artist:   Nourathar Studio

Authors: Caen Botto & Marta Rupérez

Title:  L'enfer c'est les autres

Date: 2023

Medium: Augmented reality. Mixed media; metal shelf + 8 glass jars. Software*, computer, projectors, custom electronics, camera & stainless steel stand, lights, Arduino.

*Custom application developed in Max/MSP/Jitter by Caen Botto.

Dimensions: variable. Video booth: 1,5m (h) x 1m (w) x 1m (d) 

Edition: unique within a series of 6


As visitors enter a dark room they encounter a metal shelf with seven glass jars; a label identifies each jar with one of the 7 deadly sins. Across from the shelf is a “video-booth” equipped with a camera, lights and a button. Participants are invited to stand on the platform and have their image recorded on video; as they press the button, their video-selfie is automatically mapped onto one of the seven jars, where it will be “captured” until another visitor takes their place.

The captured images of visitors make up a collection of bottled faces, displayed as in a museum or bestiary; a cabinet of monstrous curiosities. Each jar and its face are associated with one of the deadly sins and with the technological companies that, in a certain way, enhance, commercialize and feed on them.

Sartre's phrase “L’enfer c’est les autres” (Huis clos, 1944) explores the concept of the influence of other people's views on the personal psyche. It stems from the idea that the gaze of others has the ability to undress us and expose the reality of our being. This situation of vulnerability causes the individual to feel judged and condemned. When we observe our image reflected in the eyes of others, what we see is the monster in the mirror that confronts us with our darker side, our weaknesses, defects and fears.

The installation explores how the gaze of other people conditions the construction of one's own identity, in a relationship of intersubjectivity. At the same time, it ironizes about how large tech companies take advantage of our weaknesses by manipulating and nourishing this construction.

On the other hand, the installation inverts the relationship between observer // observed: the viewer, who attends the gallery with the intention of seeing an exhibition, finds himself in front of the captured gaze of previous visitors. As soon as he decides to interact, he becomes part of the installation and will also be observed by future visitors. The meaning of the installation is completed when participants share their captured faces on social media.