The Lie Machine
Suitcase, computer, speaker, Voice Stress Analysis software, autobiographical read-by-the author audiobooks (Palin, Obama, Clinton, Bush)

Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) is a highly contested and controversial lie detection technology. Through the detection of variations in the microtremors of speech, truthfulness is evaluated through analysis of live or recorded voice. As a result, the technique can be applied surreptitiously, even posthumously, to the vast storehouses of spoken audio available.

The Lie Machine processes recorded audio with standard Voice Stress Analysis algorithms. The archive chosen for this analysis is a set of audiobook autobiographies, each read by its author: Decision Points by George W. Bush, Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin, A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair, My Life by Bill Clinton, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama.

The title, “The Lie Machine” is taken from a 1973 Playboy Magazine article by Craig Vetter of the same name, on the subject of the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE). The PSE was the first commercially available VSA-based instrument, “designed to fit into a Samsonite briefcase.” The algorithm gained notoriety recently in the U.S. trial of George Zimmerman for the charge of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, where Zimmerman was cleared of the charges based partly on his successful passing of a CVSA test (Computer Voice Stress Analysis).

“We are not concerned with the guilt or innocence of a suspect, only in whether or not he seems to be lying. He’s either D.I. or N.D.I. -- deception indicated or no deception indicated.” (Playboy, 1973)

The project was produced and supported by LEAP Berlin. Many thanks to John McKiernan, Daniel Franke at LEAP, as well as Samo Tadin and Tuk Bredsdorff in Copenhagen, for their interests, generosity and contributions.


Opening: Friday 04.4.2014, 19:00
Exhibition:05.04.2014 – 26.04.2014, 12:00 – 18:00 Tuesday-Saturday

Participating Artists:
Jamie Allen, James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, Ralf Baecker, Rosemary Lee, Sascha Pohflepp and Chris Woebken, Addie Wagenknecht

The group exhibition Obsessive Sensing features works which as their basis look at the programming of the world as an expression of artistic research. The participating artists aim to ‘’sense’’ with the help of complex systems and thus to reimagine how we perceive the world. How do we go about sensing that which we cannot perceive? This is reflected in the idea of technical images, as described by Vilém Flusser – the preparation of the information which we cannot perceive for our senses. ‘’This can be achieved neither with hands nor with eyes nor with fingers, for these elements are neither graspable, nor are they visible. For this reason, apparatuses must be developed that grasp the ungraspable, visualize the invisible, and conceptualize the inconceivable.’’ (Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images)
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