The Arts Catalyst team spent a very cold day in a dilapidated, darkened office suite in Liverpool on Saturday, processing the volunteer ‘self-experimenters’ who came to take part in the Office of Experiments‘ art performance/experiment Truth Serum. It was interesting to observe the volunteers as they arrived and waited for processing – having first been whisked away from FACT in a car driven by a serious man in sunglasses to this secret location, accessed through an anonymous door in an indoor CCP car park. Some were white with nerves, others looked apprehensive but game, one approached the exercise with confrontational belligerence, one attempted to run away as soon as she stepped out of the car and had to be persuaded to come back, two towards the end of the day just grinned confidently – had they been briefed, or simply been in the FACT bar for a time? Guided from darkened room to room by shady persons calling themselves Randy, the volunteers were assigned a number, asked to sign a waiver, given a truth serum if so designated, and asked to wait for their interrogation.
Truth Serum was an artistic experiment in gentle disorientation and destablilisation and an exploration of truth, belief, responsibility and art. It incorporated a number of mild interrogation techniques and psychological games. In the event, all the participants – however nervous they looked beforehand – responded well to the interrogation and appeared to leave calm and thoughtful.
We are very grateful to all the brave souls who took part.