The Quality or Condition

"The Quality or Condition" is an interactive multimedia installation that will blend music, visual art/sculpture, and storytelling into a cohesive and immersive multi-sensory experience. It is the collaborative brainchild of Backstop Collective, an Austin, Texas-based art group that leverages the talents of three respected multidisciplinary artists, Lauren Gurgiolo, Hannah Baker, and Wendy Mitchell.

During the installation, participants will travel through a passageway whose walls are filled with hundreds of ceramic masks. Each mask will be identical in form but unique on the surface, due to raku firing. Light and motion sensors will be placed in and around the masks, and visitors will engage with them to trigger recorded music, ambient sounds, and short stories that will play from speakers behind the masks.

Each visitor must choose where to focus attention, carving out his or her own unique reality of the experience: lingering to listen to a story’s climax, stepping into a silent corner, drifting off to an ambient combination of sounds, singing along to a nursery rhyme, or leaning in close to hear a secret.

Inspired by Sartre’s idea of bad faith and the constellation model of relationship therapy, the project explores themes of self-identity, social interaction, and group relationships. As the visitor travels through the passage, she is responsible not only for curating her own experience, but also for contributing to the experience of the group as a whole.

This marks the second piece from Backstop Art. In 2013, the team produced 'Calculated Carelessness' (Museum of Human Achievement), a multimedia installation which received Project II Cultural Arts Funding from the city of Austin. It culminated in four nights of sold out shows.

Funded by Austin, TX (May 2015)