The Justice Syndicate
Dan Barnard, Rachel Briscoe, Kris De Meyer, Joe McAlister
In The Justice Syndicate, twelve players make up a jury who must review documents and audio and video evidence on iPads to reach a verdict on a case which implicitly explores gender, class and privilege. Carefully crafted ‘testimonies’ draw the audience into the scenario while the bespoke control system uses machine learning to subtly differentiate each juror’s experience to generate deeper dialogue. A collaboration with neuroscientist Dr Kris De Meyer, the piece also gives players an embodied experience of group decision making and then allows them to step back and appreciate the cognitive processes underlying their conversations. Conceived in response to our increasingly polarised society, The Justice Syndicate is an interactive medium to explore how taken-for-granted assumptions, intuitions and emotions influence decision-making. The piece uses technology to take the level of interactivity and agency of audience members to a new level; in most previous “delegated art” the level of social interaction and meaningful agency has been fairly modest (Harvie, 2013). The Justice Syndicate’s synthesis of complex computational processes and social psychology into a transformative group experience pioneers a more audience-focussed future for digital art, in which new affordances can be used to activate diverse and polyphonic perspectives on contemporary societal fracture. Presented at events including York Mediale, NTS’s Citizen of Nowhere, Battersea Arts Centre, EdSciFest, and Sheffield Doc/Fest, The Justice Syndicate has received significant critical acclaim (including a spread in The Observer - see fanSHEN’s website) and led to a collaboration with NESTA, using the model to explore collective intelligence.