This work is inspired by the historic behavioural experiments of American psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) which explored the idea of random reward. Skinner’s work has been widely referenced in relation to the algorithms which drive interactions on social media, tapping into a subconscious primal side of the brain which is involved in motivated behaviours, thus exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. Skinner’s ‘operant conditioning chambers’ demonstrated that random reward created a kind of constant uncertainty that then encouraged a behavioural loop. Skinner’s ghost has persisted into the modern day, a quiet spectre among our statuses, likes, comments, and shares.
Many Victorian fairy paintings contain sinister elements of violence contrasting with their otherwise enchanting and ethereal qualities.
Collishaw borrowed some of these characters to perform in a three-dimensional Zoetrope, an updated version of a Nineteenth Century animation device. As the machine rotates, an animated scene appears that is both compelling and unsavoury.
Like many acts of violence in painting or the cinema it is easy to become emotionally detached to vicious behaviour. The Zoetrope’s uncannily fast revolution evokes the rush of adrenaline triggered by outbreaks of violence.