The Ægis is composed of of two wing-like screens enclosed in a backpack suspended from the shoulders. The screens unfold and play digital video in response to verbal commands. play video

Ægis Project
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Adam Whiton, Sung Ho Kim, Jurek Stypulkowski, Kelly Dobson, Brooklyn Model Works

The Ægis was the cloak of Athena, bearing a Gorgon's head, that she used to protect herself and others. The instrument is a piece of equipment designed to represent dual (and often dueling) truths, those living contradictions that both define, depict, and can sometimes destroy individual existence.

The Ægis is composed of of two wing-like screens enclosed in a backpack hanging from the shoulders of it's wearer. When the wearer is ready to deploy the equipment, the screens will unfold in response to physical or verbal commands and simultaneously play prerecorded video and sound images of the wearers face driven by a concealed laptop computer.

The truth (a-letheia: that which is not to be forgotten; rescued from lethe, Oblivion) demands an ethics of "response-ability" that can withstand even the threat of being silenced. Revealing the complex truth of experience requires showing the contradictions-that between authenticity and assimilation, or between liberation of oneself and being bound to or for another. For example, an adequate answer to the seemingly simple and well-meaning, but deeply insulting "Where are you from?" can only be given in the form of a dialogue between two concurrently present images, and can never be achieved without revealing ones own contradictions. Perplexity can only be met with complexity. The containers of these contradictory images require an opener; and in the process of disclosure, opening up-whether through physical effort on the part of the messenger, a mechanical device, or, best of all a sensor that responds to a verbal cue-is the heart of the Ægis.

The Ægis Project was funded in part by the MIT Council for the Arts and was exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in their 2000 Biennial Exhibition.