Intervention – Amaël de Betak

by | Nov 18, 2019 | Artwork #3: Intervene

My intervention consisted of having a friend and I playing a fighting game inside of the East Village elevators and inviting people to join us as they walked onto the lift. Our set-up was a chair in each back corner and a podium centered along the back wall, upon which the switch was placed with the spare controller.

The first objective of this score was to shock the people who would enter the lift, which was achieved through the choice of the environment in which the intervention occurred. The choice of the lift was made as, in East Village, students are forced to use them in order to get to their rooms or leave the building, meaning that there was a very high chance that we would run into people while intervening. We also decided to head into the lift at 20:30 as this was the time when most people would be using the elevators as they were heading either to or from dinner or the gym, for the most part, meaning there was quite a high amount of traffic. The shock factor was thanks to the fact that people do not really associate this means of locomotion to anything else than that, and therefore upon coming across people who were not using that space for that purpose, they could not help but be surprised.

The second objective was to give the people we came across a break from their day. Most students are busy for the majority of their days, and therefore giving them the opportunity to take a break felt like it would go well with the first objective of the intervention. In order to achieve this, we decided to invite them to join us in our game, allowing them to take their minds off of things for the brief time in which they were in the lift. Asking them to join us I think was crucial to get them to participate as I do not believe that anyone would have joined us of their own accord as the lift rides were too short for them to think of entering the game.

The inspiration for this intervention came from two different works. The first one was a piece by the Yes-Men, which we had briefly touched upon in class. I found their work very entertaining and therefore chose to look into more of their works in my free time. I found this intervention in which one of them faked being a member of a company which was linked with a chemical disaster and made a fake public announcement in which he said that the company would take full blame of the events and would help those affected by these events, which is the opposite response given by the real company. I felt like this was created in order to shock the audience as this is something people do not usually see as corporations usually look towards profit and simply try to put behind anything that could affect them negatively. This also created somewhat of a break from all of the negative news which we are fed on a daily basis and gave some sort of hope.

The other piece which I took inspiration from was the War Tweets intervention game which the creators had presented to us during one of our classes. The main point which I took from it was the audience participation, as the game could not really run if no one played it. I thought that bringing the audience into the intervention was somewhat necessary as it was don for them, and therefore making them take part in it would bring a whole new level of involvement.

Overall, the intervention was a great success. Many people decided to join us to play during their elevator trips, with some people even voluntarily missing their floors in order to play a bit longer. One person stayed as long as 15 minutes with us, and it reached a point where it felt like he was also a part of the intervention as he also invited people to join as they would step in before I would. Furthermore, I thought that even if people did not want to participate, I would still try to have an interaction with them in order to hopefully make their days a little better. The intervention had to end after an hour as an RA decided to kick us out of the elevators because we were apparently not allowed to have furniture inside of the lifts.