Mike Hansen
Interactive Installation: Hoi Polloi

An encounter based installation that deflates the notion of celebrity by giving star power to the masses. 

“Hoi Polloi” offers The Red Carpet as your invitation to celebrity. “Hoi Polloi” is inspired by the concern to give ‘everyone a chance’ When you walk “Hoi Polloi’s” red carpet you are greeted by the undulating screams of your fans and the undying devotion of the paparazzi, as they swoon for your attention. Screams of love and hysteria follow your every step. The paparazzi try to get your attention as they to scoop one another in vain attempts to catch a glimpse of your image. Camera flashes blind you as you walk the red carpet. You become the focus of their attention, even for just a moment.

The red carpet is an important element in the cult of celebrity. It is a make or break situation when it comes to recognition. It is important to remember that it is not a red carpet but “The Red Carpet”.

“Hoi Polloi” gives celebrity to the masses. It takes The Red Carpet out of segregation and offers its values to all.  Hoi Polloi demystifies the cult by giving us permission to go through the motions, and thereby frames a critique of the cult of celebrity.  

The stars are being fawned over by an ever-growing fan(sination), and the ever-willing paparazzi document their every breath. “Hoi Polloi” feeds you these same sensations. As you enter The Red Carpet, surrounded by stanchions and velvet ropes, you are greeted by a pre-recorded loop, which is triggered by a motion sensor.  The pre-recorded loop consists of screaming fans, the clicking of many cameras, and individual screams of desire. The paparazzi demanding that you look their way, (“Here! Here! Over here!), fans clamour for your autograph, scream their love and adoration while demanding to know “Who are you wearing?” The motion detector also cues a series of camera like flashes, fulfilling the cultural paradigm of the red carpet relationship. Lending a sense of drama as you encounter this devotion.

“Hoi Polloi” does not intend to fool or trick the spectator. In its construction all is revealed, the scaffolding is not hidden. The red carpet presentations we witness are an illusion, in that we never see it in the flesh. It is all ways in images reported to us through magazines or broadcast over television. It is masked, all reality is hidden, there are no wires, and workman, the human side is disguised. A draping that is their hegemonic culture. The red carpet we experience is almost always a simulation. “He participates suddenly in the creation of a reality that was just presented to him in dots: the television watcher is in a position of an individual who is asked to project his own fantasies on inkblots that are not supposed to represent anything. TV as perpetual Rorschach test.” (Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation)

“Hoi Polloi” is the real, rooted in its space through the site of its process, (transparent) with nothing is hidden. Hoi Polloi has created an illusion without an illusion, by revealing the construction of the illusion.  It is like seeing up the sleeve of the magician as he creates his magic. You can see its labour, the material of the forces at play.

“Hoi Polloi” represents democratization, closing the distance between by removing celebrity from celebrity, as “with video, the difference between the actor and the passer-by tends to diminish. It represents the same development in relation to the film camera as that announced by the invention of paint in tubes in the impressionist generation.” (Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics).

“Hoi Polloi” enables both the extravert and the apprehension in the spectator to rise forth. A charge of excitement fills the interaction as you enter the field of encounter a priori that we are culturally familiar with.  An opportunity to enlist into the realm of the Other, crossing the boundaries set up by the hierarchy to retain your place in the cultural matrix.  The spectator becomes an image within the image.  There is no divine right authority to force the apprehensive viewer, to participate. You can walk on by.

“Hoi Polloi” constructs a model of sociability suitable for producing human relations and exploring the arcane mysteries of interaction.  Hansen’s installation encourages the beholder to take up a position within the arrangement, giving it life, completing the work, and taking part in the formation of its meaning.

Learn more about Mike Hansen here.