THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
EQU^—L^—TER^—L / EMILY DICARLO, JACQUI ARNTFIELD & W.J. WILSON
“The House That Jack Built” actively examines the meaning that language creates in our physical world. The performance is participatory, and it highlights the use of language as a tool to conceptualize a particular environment in order to create a shared understanding of a space through collectively articulating individual interpretations.
Invited into Arntfield’s studio and home, visitors find every room, including hallways, kitchen and bathroom, labeled with pink post-it notes describing the function, history and significance of every object in her personal dwelling. Before participants enter the space, they are instructed to either label in blue post-its if they have been to the studio before or in yellow post-its if they have not. Regardless of familiarity, both parties are invited to contribute their own subjective experience to the installation.
As the durational performance unfolds over several hours, dialogues and narratives begin to emerge through interacting descriptions. Simple responses to the space evolve into reflexive linguistic and visual conversations. Patterns in participant interaction materialize as pockets of color and reveal a fundamental correlation between familiarity and significance. The more the environment is communicated by others, the more it shifts from an inherently private space to a collectively understood public domain.