Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Christy Roberts and Erich Wise
wood, metal, led wire, acrylic, margarita mix, tequila
12' x 12' x 5' (dimensions vary)

Broadly defined, Horizontality is an attempt to engage in egalitarian group decision-making, without a leadership structure, through open debate within a diverse and participatory network. This form of direct democratic expression has become prominent within some contemporary political communities, notably within the Occupy movement. Consensus, by Christy Roberts and Erich Wise, expresses a critique of the concept as idealized.

Within every group, there will be marginalized subgroups or those who may not be capable of vigorous debate and persuasion. Since the claims of horizontality are that the views of every member of the community are worth considering, worth subjecting to communal review, doesn't the presence of such overlooked subgroups cause a glitch in the system? With only the voices of those skilled in social influence or those from a respected subgroup rising to consideration, the desired egalitarian results are subverted.

In Consensus, this problem is represented by the unbalanced seesaw; those with social entitlement are given greater "weight" in decision-making. Yet, through empathy and an honest process of opinion-gathering, this unequal allocation of power may be resolved. It may be frustrating, but getting the situation properly balance, truly horizontal, can bring about sweet results.

Consensus portrays this concept with a drink container balanced in the middle of the seesaw. Though it reads "Ugh", a sound of frustration and distaste, the liquid within can be a delightful treat.

Detail of Consensus (2013) by Christy Roberts and Erich Wise

We're looking forward to seeing you at the TAM.

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