I Am A Different One
in collaboration with Olaf Val
Interactive Videoinstallation, 2009
What happens if one takes away all the intermediaries in a beauty pageant, the elaborate events as well as the national, cultural and social marketing and the contestants have to face a direct trade relationship? Will the contest be more direct, possibly even more democratic and more humane?
The internet platform Youtube tried this in the 2008 election for the “most beautiful woman on earth” for the time. Women are no longer being called on stage and presented but presented themselves. From out of their homes they turn directly to the camera as their intimate onlooker and thereby conceal the anonymity of the uncountable viewers, which they embody. Common catwalk for the competitors is only the English language and their consent over a grid of information about their personality: nationality, occupational and qualification, high aims in life or social dedication. The online performance turns into a role- play with the hope that a kind of magical force of the medium my defeat reality and offer private happiness.
But what if someone uses these appearances as an opportunity to “Learn” Miss Russia, India or Bolivia as if she was literally speaking wearing these women? She has played this through in their interactive video installation ”I am an Other”. Using the “Vote” button the user can choose a woman and start her twice simultaneously: once as an original on the computer and at the same time reenacted by Catrine Val on the screen. If no choice has been made, home video sequences are use as enticing teasers the evoke curiosity.
Catrine Val has invented herself in front of an obviously homely ambience of the woman. The seriousness with which this game of created and copied videos is played and that records the structures behind such video-blogs reminds one of a child’s play with puppets. At the same time the copy maintains a humorous distance. The simulation easily supersedes the reality and enters the realm where the difference between truth and deceit is negligible.