Lynn Hershman Leeson

Lorna ,
Co-workers & Funding
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1979-1983 A.D.
A.D. "A precondition to video is that it does not talk back. It absorbs, rather than reflects."
Preliminary Notes, 1981

While video was like a reflection that did not talk back, interactive works were like a trick, two way mirror that required dialogues. I found this possibility deeply subversive!

Unlike ROBERTA, who existed in the world, LORNA the main character of my first interactive videodisk never left her one room apartment. The objects in her room were very much like those in The Dante Hotel. Except that there was a television set. As LORNA watched the news and ads, she became fearful, afraid to leave her tiny room. Viewers were invited to liberate LORNA from her web of fears by accessing buttons on their remote control unit that corresponded to numbers placed on the items in her room. Instead of being passive, the action was literally in their own hands. Every object in LORNA'S room contains a number and becomes a chapter in her life that opens into branching sequences.

The viewer/participant accesses information about LORNA'S past, future and personal conflicts via these objects. Many images on the screen are of the remote control device LORNA uses to change television channels. Because viewer/participants also use a nearly identical unit to direct the disc action, a metaphoric link or point of identification is established and surrogate decisions are made for LORNA. The telephone was LORNA'S link to the outside world. Viewer/participants chose to voyeuristically overhear conversations of different contexts as they trespassed the cyberspace of her hard pressed life. There were three endings: Lorna shoots her television set, commits suicide, or, what we Northern Californians consider the worst of all, she moves to Los Angeles.

The plot has multiple variations that can be seen backwards, forwards, at increased or decreased speeds, and from several points of view. There is no hierarchy in the ordering of decisions. And the icons were made often of cut off and dislocated body parts such as a mouth, or an eye...

The first interactive laser artdisk. LORNA tells the story of an agorophobic woman. Viewers have the option of directing her life into several possible plots and endings. Music by Terry Allen.

(L. Hershman)

  • aesthetics
    • narrative
    • processual
  • genres
    • installations
      • interactive installations
  • subjects
    • Body and Psychology
      • psyche
    • Media and Communication
      • television
    • Society and Culture
      • voyeurism
Technology & Material