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(Archive) Portray Me

This project was part of DDW 2023
Portray Me — © Ana Carolina de Marco

In a world where visual cues often shape our initial perceptions, Portray Me creates a space that encourages unbiased connections by eliminating the reliance on visual and auditive cues.

Step into this interactive installation where voices weave portraits, and connections transcend looks.

Wired for Bias

Our brains are wired to categorize and make sense of the world around us, utilizing cognitive shortcuts to conserve energy and processing power. This natural tendency often leads to the formation of stereotypes, as our brains rely on preconceived markers such as facial attributes, features, and even vocal cues to quickly categorize individuals.

These markers can be influenced by individual beliefs and social norms, further perpetuating stereotypes and potentially leading to negative stereotyping of individuals as belonging to certain "groups" or "out-groups." Scientific evidence supports the notion that stereotypes are learned ways of categorizing people and groups, influenced by beliefs about the world that are acquired through various sources such as parents, the media, and primary caretakers. These learned beliefs shape our perceptions and can contribute to the perpetuation of biases and stereotypes.

Stereotypes can prevent us from seeing people as individuals with unique stories, experiences, and personalities. “Portray Me” aims to challenge and overcome these limitations, by eliminating the reliance on visual and auditive cues.

The experience

Portray me is an interactive installation where participants can engage without visual or auditive cues by using a text-to-voice app. During a 15-minute session, participants are given the opportunity to engage in an imaginative process while asking and answering questions. These questions have been carefully chosen to reveal personal interests, experiences, values, and character traits.

Participants are encouraged to create an imaginary portrait of the other person using the technique of collage, with materials that have been prepared in advance. This artistic activity allows participants to tap into their creativity, intuition, and perceptions, enabling them to form a unique representation of the individual they are conversing with. At the end, participants can share the collages if they wish. These collages become visual representations of the connections formed.

To encourage self-reflection, participants are provided with cards from an “oracle deck" that has been painted and designed by women artists from our community. These cards feature thought-provoking texts that encourage introspection and stimulate conversations around biases and stereotypes.

By combining the imaginative process of collage creation, the sharing of personal interpretations, and the use of oracle cards, our project aims to provide a multi-dimensional approach to fostering connections and challenging biases. Through these creative and introspective elements, participants are encouraged to embrace vulnerability, engage in self-reflection, and develop a heightened awareness of the unconscious biases, stereotypes and prejudices that may influence their interactions.

We hope to promote empathy, understanding, cultivate respect for diversity, and establish a foundation of mutual appreciation and support. Our ultimate goal is to create an inclusive society that celebrates the richness of each individual's story, and where connections transcend the limitations imposed by stereotypes and biases.