Kentaro Yamada: Listening Heads

  • ©2006, Kentaro Yamada, Listening Heads
  • ©2006, Kentaro Yamada, Listening Heads


    Listening Heads

Artist(s) and People Involved:



Creation Year:



    Interactive Installation

Art Event Overview:

    Kentaro Yamada’s Listening Heads highlights the nuances of communication made from the non-linguistic elements that shape conversation. Speaking into one of the microphones hanging in front of these large-scale video portraits provokes an emotive but silent expression from the sitters – they frown, fall asleep, look bored, or intent. The viewer engages in a phantasmic conversation, seeking by habit an approving or appropriate look from faces that appear open and responsive but simply form a thin veneer over a computer interface. The resulting monologue can feel reassuringly complete, an illusion of interaction framed by intangible presence. Sometimes the spoken input and the video response coincide, but other times the head’s reply leaves the viewer with the sense of a communication breakdown. Listening Heads plays with our human perception of the face as privileged object. The illusion that the heads listen and respond turns the portraits into a kind of mirror, returning our gaze. By clothing his hardware and software in his friends’ visages Yamada constructs a kind of wordless Turing test.


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