CreativeDishonesty: Cheat Codes

The Greece That I Know

Dara Alter

The Greece That I Know

Mixed media on paper

11" x 14"

Dara Alter examines cheating and dishonesty through collage and painting, where imagery is essentially stolen from the internet and juxtaposed with areas of abstraction. The end product is an original work composed of individual units that were authored by someone else. Her product is neither ethical nor unethical, but instead sits on the border between right and wrong. The Greece that I Know is a mind-map of Greece, a place that the artist has never been to but identifies with after recent media exposure. However, the place is articulated as though the artist has been there and has known this place intimately.

Greece is a particularly interesting topic given that in 2011 we have discovered that the Greeks are among the world leaders in underreporting and underpaying taxes. One thing we find in our research on dishonesty is that once we observe someone else cheating in an egregious way, this kind of dishonest behavior becomes more acceptable and we are likely to follow suit. Perhaps this ease of social contagion can explain something about the Greek taxpaying deficits.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Covered in Love

Tessa Browne

Covered in Love

Quilted fabric and paper

30" x 48"

I have always thought on some level that a person invariably knows the “truth” about themselves. That it is impossible to be dishonest with one's self. However, what if we consider the following:

What happens when we know the right decision and still act unaccordingly?

In the case of an addiction, reality buckles and gives way to a desired illusion.

Covered in Love is a personal exposé, dealing with self-awareness and internal honesty. Comprised of letters written to and by me from the ages 12 and up. The letters are sewn together in a patchwork quilt to create a visual and tacile sense of a nonlinear timeline.

with warm regards,
a self-confessed love addict

The aphorism “know thy self,” is commonly used to warn those whose boasts ingratiate, or exaggerate their true selves. However, as the last 50 years of research in social science have demonstrated, knowing ourselves can be a very difficult task. One of the reasons that self-knowledge is so hard to come by is that we use our incredible cognitive ability to tell ourselves stories that justify why we behave in the ways we do – and in our stories we are inevitably smart and thoughtful or a victim of other peoples’ malice. These stories are often not an accurate reflection of the real motives behind our behaviors, but as stories they are usually quite convincing and we easily subscribe to them.

Dan – Dan Ariely
The Act of Borrowing

Maria Catanzaro

The Act of Borrowing

Acrylic on canvas

8" x 10"

We are continually inspired, knowingly or not, by objects and images around us. These inspirations may lead to an idea for a new food recipe or film, a fresh angle on an academic paper or a concept for an art piece. But, should we give credit to each influence? We know from research on dishonesty that we all cheat a small amount, though not enough to the point where we have to re-evaluate our positive self-concept. Perhaps, then, when we create an art piece, employing small amounts of inspiration from elsewhere, we justify it quickly and accept it as our own.

One of the most interesting things about borrowing work from others and thinking of it as our own is the finding that our ability to take undeserved credit depends partially on the amount of effort that we expend. If in the process of plagiarizing other people’s work we think hard, work hard or even just spend a lot of time, it is much easier for us to claim undeserved credit – and truly believe that we deserve it. In the case of the arts, there is even an official term for (appropriately) borrowing another's work: appropriation. And having such an official sounding name for this activity could make it even easier – and if the path of borrowing and recycling is so easy to walk down, does this hinder creativity?

Dan – Dan Ariely
Unintentional Deceit (Puzzled Jackie)

Charlie Cook

Unintentional Deceit (Puzzled Jackie)

Acrylic on canvas

Approximately 5' x 3'

Lies do not live on their own. When one is brought into the world, many more follow suit to keep the first one thriving. Unintentional Deceit is a manifestation of this thought expressed through a combination of thirty-one canvases, showing how little lies combine and make a larger visage of what a person could be or is. The sides of each canvas document a conversation about finding your true self by adding things to one’s body. The colors used in this piece highlight examples of the things a person adds to their body to create a persona, thereby creating a deception.

You may be aware of the “what-the-hell” effect in dieting, where small lapses give way to larger ones, quickly resulting in an avalanche of unhealthy decisions. We start the day with good intentions, but if we step out of line we say to ourselves, “what the hell, I am not a good dieter today anyway, so I might as well enjoy it.” And suddenly you find yourself eating an entire quart of Rocky Road ice cream, telling yourself that tomorrow will be different. But when tomorrow is just the same as yesterday, we end up cheating on our “diet” day after day, making a habit of that ice cream exception. The same basic effect also takes place in lying, where after telling one small lie, we tell another and another, until ultimately it changes the way we view ourselves – now we are not as pure – and from there on we become more and more dishonest.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Keep the Home Fires Burning

Kerry Cox

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Paper, Ink, Plexiglass Boxes, Fabric

Dimensions variable

Keep the Home Fires Burning is an ongoing social and visual experiment concerning the subjective nature of morality and both visual and literary imagery. The work is thematically centered around the 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald novella, The Diamond As Big As the Ritz, a psychedelic tale of subjective values. Viewers are invited to engage with artist and project, leaving open the possibility for varying degrees of participation and the creation of various objects of ephemera documenting moments of contemplation.

Results will be measured and displayed closer to close of the exhibition. Participants are encouraged to follow the project at www.kerrylcox.com.

The honesty and dishonesty we see in daily life is an interplay between moral and immoral, truth and lying. While we all want to view ourselves as moral and honest, the reality is that whenever there are gray zones (and there are many of these) there is a good chance that we will stray from the straight and narrow – but only to the extent that we can still think of ourselves as moral and wonderful beings. So, while we want to think of ourselves as donating a $1 to the moral box, in reality most of us should probably put 20¢ into the immoral box as a reflection of our general capacity to cheat a little bit

Dan – Dan Ariely
Untitled Grid 6

Veltzer Doron

Untitled Grid 6

Stainless steel

30 cm x 60 cm

At its core, modernist art addresses the questions “What is art?” and “What is not art?” Duchamp beautifully mocks these questions with “La Fontaine” by raising the price of a urinal a million times by simply turning it upside down and signing his name (fake name actually) to it.

The question “But is it art?” assumes that the artist knows “art” and can justify “art,” but what if the artist himself has done such a naughty deed that he doesn't know anymore, has forgotten, or won't tell the observer under threat of physical violence even if he does know?

This question might seem philosophic, but can it truly be so with billions of dollars at stake? This concerns are most vividly addressed in my latest work, Untitled Grid 6, a flat object which is mathematically formulated and holds strict accordance to Juddian aesthetics. Can a conceptually practical object once destined to be sold as a patent to global corporations for millions of dollars still be sold for large amounts of cash simply by being relabeled as “art?”

– Veltzer Doron

When we experience something, its label can influence our experience and entirely change how we view and remember it. Think about two different ways of describing a dish: 1) “Asian-style ginger chicken” and a “Greek salad with kalamata olives and feta cheese” or, on another menu: 2) “A succulent organic breast of chicken roasted to perfection and drizzled with a merlot demi-glace, resting in a bed of herbed Israeli couscous” and a “mélange of the freshest heirloom tomatoes and crisp field greens, paired with a warm round of chèvre in a tangy raspberry vinaigrette.” Research on expectations shows that most people would not only prefer the latter, but they would enjoy it more as well. Is this kind of label use dishonest? What if it is a 25% exaggeration and it improves the experience?

Dan – Dan Ariely
Untitled

Payam Emrani

Untitled

Photographs

I created an experiment to explore the question: can you hand a person with no photography experience an expensive camera and have them create images on par with those of a professional photographer shooting under the same circumstances?

After conducting a few experiments, actually after the first shoot, the answer became obvious to me – no. In fact, not only can an amateur not produce images on par with a professional photographer shooting in automatic mode, a photographer given the constraints of this experiment could not produce images on par with the images they normally create. The results of this experiment are not what I want to focus on, however.

What I found most fascinating about this experiment was how the subjects, the amateur photographers with no photography experience, handled the camera. Surprisingly, these individuals never experimented with the camera. They never took it off of automatic mode. Why?

A partial explanation may be that as technology progresses the inner workings of machines become more hidden and secret; people lose touch with how machines actually work because they no longer need to program them, change their parts, etc. Since we no longer know how the machines work, machines become more and more infallible.

When people think of photography, they often think of pictures in a magazine. While they are aware those images are “photoshopped,” they are never presented with the beginning image. Since they do not know the limits of the technology, they may assume any image flaws can be fixed in Photoshop.

To me the problems we face today and why we face them are encapsulated in this experiment. We have switched from a mindset in which we could fix anything and everything by tinkering with the problems, working together, etc. to the modern mindset of we can come up with better machines to fix the problem or the machines we have will fix the problem. We no longer have agency; we no longer have to face our problems.

So is digital photography cheating? Yes, digital photography, and technology in general, is cheating – we are cheating ourselves of our full potential.

– Payam Emrani

To see the images referenced by Emrani in this essay and participate in the survey, visit http://fameinacan.com/Duke/survey.xhtml.

Why is it that a realistic painting of a beautiful tree with the light falling on it just the right way can be viewed as an artistic masterpiece, but a spectacular photo of the same tree is less likely to be viewed as art? I suspect that there are a few reasons; first, the prevalence of digital cameras makes it hard for people to appreciate the skill involved with taking great photos. Another reason is that we often view technology as a systematic, deterministic tool with little room for human intervention and creativity. Finally, there is the question of effort – if it only takes a few seconds to push a button, always with the option of cropping or tweaking the color composition later – is the process too easy to be considered “art?”

Dan – Dan Ariely
The Ethos of Greenwashing

Albert Gilewicz

The Ethos of Greenwashing

Wood panels, metal rods, vinyl banner, ink

7' x 3' x 3'

Creative corporate names and marketing can lead consumers into believing a product has a morally intrinsic value not sustainable under scrutiny. This three dimensional sculpture exposes the greenwashing of Ethos and the bottled water industry compelling a reflection on the sale of one's morality for five cents donated to the development of clean water sources. Recognizing the cognitive dissonance of the consumer, this artwork is intended to act as the rinse cycle and cleanse the purchaser of the creative dishonesty of Ethos and the bottled water industry.

Corporations are not alone in their greenwashing practices. People engage in moral cleansing as well – sometimes with negative consequences. For example, people who buy “green” products and consequently convince themselves of their superior moral fibre may actually allow themselves to be more selfish later in the day. After all, if we have proven that we are good people, what is a minor slip? We may feel licensed to turn up the air conditioning because we just brought reusable bags at the grocery store. And the same works for the ways we treat people – after being nice to one member of a minority group, we feel fine mistreating another member of the same group – after all, “some of our best friends are...”

Dan – Dan Ariely
Added Value

Carter Hubbard

Added Value

wax, ink, tissue paper, found labels, wooden rods, strings, clipboards

4' x 30'

Carter Hubbard's work responds to waste, in physical and intangible forms, within the socio economic ecology of humans. Waste, paradoxically, becoming a source of identity and oppression, is the basis for reflection on what we find important, create as valuable, and the resulting repercussions due to a loss of individualism. Added Value reflects the average work place in which there is a resounding dull roar of the endless stream of minutia all in the name of productivity. For the person who seeks more than the portrayal of the busy bee with a cheerio smile never once stopping, there is the ever present window in the daily drone to cheat within “the system” by pursuing one’s own passion while keeping the pace and the face of “the machine.”

We would like to think that we spend our days in productive and useful ways. But how do we come to believe that we are making good use of our time? The answer is that we search for things that make us feel as if we have made progress. Think about this: do you first respond to your most important emails, or to the ones that are easier to answer and give you that quick boost of (artificial) progress? Do you spend too much time managing your To Do lists rather than actually doing the work? The “dull roar of the endless stream of minutia all in the name of productivity” makes us feel that we are moving forward, but we are too often just fooling ourselves.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Swaddling

Kacy Johnson

Swaddling

Digital photographs

10" x 8"

Swaddling is a visual interpretation of symbols and illusions that we carry with us to interpret our delicate and volatile world. We project these symbols and illusions onto the world around us, distorting our honest understanding of ourselves and others through assumption and misinterpretation. The scenes may be truthful, or a projection of the photographer's own symbols and illusions – which distort her vision of who she really is, as well as her view of the world around her.

The trick with distorting our worldview is that it is both dangerous and useful. Do we really want to see reality as it is? Is it good for us to know how attractive, smart, and loved we are? Do we really want to know how we look in these pants or that dress? At the same time, we certainly don't want our doctors, financial advisors, and political leaders to be afflicted with a distorted worldview – we want them to give us diagnoses, financial advice and policies that serve our best interests. So, how should we deal with this blessed curse that is, after all, simply a part of our human nature?

Dan – Dan Ariely
1,000 Apologies (for Making Your Brown Eyes Cry)

King Kenney

1,000 Apologies (for Making Your Brown Eyes Cry)

Acrylic on MDF

24" x 36"

1,000 Apologies (For Making Your Brown Eyes Cry) details a relationship where the male becomes emotionally vacant when forced to balance life and love. Consequently, he has ended the relationship in his mind and neglected to inform his lover.

Apologies are especially interesting because they work. We find that when people are offended, they are willing to put a great deal of effort into making the offender suffer – but if a “sorry” is attached to the offence, the sharpness of the sting is much diminished – along with the desire to retaliate – and people become much more forgiving. A somewhat disturbing aspect that comes along with this finding is that, much like compliments, apologies are likely to work their magic even when they are insincere.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Viciss

Gracelee Lawrence

Viciss

Steel and synthetic twine

18" x 18" x 14"

Viciss comes from the Latin “vicis,” meaning a change or alteration in nature or life. We are all constantly adapting and adjusting in an ever-changing world. Viciss began with only the steel skeleton, creating a twisting and writhing form in space. The skeleton, a chaotic contortion, is carefully clothed with orderly lines of synthetic twine. The twine provides a contrast from the steel in both order and color. Reaching out from a chaotic framework, Viciss mirrors our constant search for order and understanding in the chaos of existence.

This artwork provides an elegant metaphor for what we know about dishonesty. At our basis we have an honest backbone, but on top of that we build more flexible webs that are often less than honest. What is promising is that at the core we know what is right and are likely to do it – if we only remember to think about our basic moral beliefs.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Untitled

Bruce Mitchell

Untitled

Oil on canvas, paper, boxes

Combining quantitative and qualitative elements, Bruce Mitchell created an interactive exhibition in order to research consumer perceptions and attitudes regarding “cheating” on the part of the artist in the production of original artwork. He investigates what consumers do and do not consider “cheating” on the part of the artist and what effects, if any, such attitudes might have on their economic behavior (e.g., likelihood to purchase, pricing expectations).

Three original oil paintings are to be exhibited, representing variations in the method of production. Equal in size and framed identically, each image will be based on reference photographs taken by the artist. The variations in production are as follows:

  • Method A: Produced using photography and traditional oil painting techniques
  • Method B: Produced using mechanical means (an opaque projector) to enlarge the source photographic image and enable tracing image outlines on the canvas by hand with a pencil, then completed using traditional oil painting techniques
  • Method C: Produced using mechanical means (giclée) to print the source photographic image on canvas, then completed using traditional oil painting techniques

Exhibited artwork is accompanied by wall-mounted labels and a sign inviting participants to complete a survey and/or a screener for the focus groups.

Pablo Picasso famously said that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” which suggests that, in art, one does not have to struggle with the boundaries between honesty and dishonesty. But if artists take this perspective to heart and follow it in their art, and if their art is a large part of their lives – does this imply that artists are likely to be dishonest in other areas of their life? We can wonder whether someone who is immoral in one domain of their life (illegal downloads, sports, taxes, etc.) may also be dishonest in other areas of life. I don’t know whether this is the case, but I look forward to testing the honesty of artists more systematically.

Dan – Dan Ariely
After Jasper: Green Target

Vincent Pidone

After Jasper: Green Target

Encaustic and ink on paper

11" x 17"

In 1955 after painting his first “Flag” paintings, Jasper Johns made “Green Target” using encaustic paint on canvas. He said of the flag, “I didn’t have to design it. So I went on to similar things like the targets – things the mind already knows.” His use of found imagery was a scandal at the time. By now, “Green Target” is sufficiently famous, at least to painters, critics, and art historians, that for me the painting is a “thing the mind already knows.”

When I see the Target department store’s trucks on the highway I think of the painting before thinking of the store. I had been thinking that a film negative of the truck should be close in color to Johns’ painting, so for this work I photographed the truck and transferred a digital negative to paper before coating it with encaustic paint.

Johns said, “...what's interesting to me is the fact that it isn't designed, but taken. It's not mine.”

It's not mine either, Jasper.

– Vincent Pidone

One of the things we find in our research is that creative people cheat to a higher degree. Why? Because cheating is all about thinking of ourselves as honest people on one hand and at the same time cheating to some degree and enjoying the fruits of our dishonesty. Why then do creative people cheat more? Because they are better at telling themselves stories about why their actions are perfectly honest and why they are still wonderful individuals. We don’t yet know whether training people to be more creative, particularly in art, can also get people to be more dishonest – but so far the data suggests that this is the case.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Shattering Illusions

Bethann Russell

Shattering Illusions

Oil on canvas

18" x 24"

Exploring the idea of the relationship between man and machine, Russell displays the influence of ethics, creativity, and dishonesty on man. The machine brings consistency, but has no ability to elicit emotion, rationalization or ethics as can be experienced by a human being. In this painting, a figure is composed internally of a computer motherboard. The right hand is raised in a manner that suggests honesty while the left hand is resting on a palette with the fingers crossed, displaying the opposite, dishonesty. The zig-zagging lines through the center of the figure are meant to resemble the results of a polygraph test which is in place to reveal the lies or truth being expressed by the figure. The machine's ethics are purely dictated by its creator.

We are a mix of honest and dishonest, rational and irrational impulses. And while it is tempting to think that rationality and honesty are on one side of the equation and dishonesty and irrationality are on the other, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, from a purely rational cost-benefit analysis, we should be cheating and stealing every chance we get (assuming we cannot get caught). But it turns out that people cheat much less than a rational theory predicts. Interestingly, it is our irrational side that gets us to care about morality and the welfare of others, and it is our irrational side that helps us behave (almost) honestly.

Dan – Dan Ariely
On My Honor

Leslie Salzillo

On My Honor

Acrylic on canvas

36" x 48"

On My Honor is about a Girl Scout oath I took years ago, and believe me, I’ve stayed true to every word. With this piece, as with all my art, it came to me in a dream. I always know exactly what I will paint – start to finish. In fact, every brush stroke I make is deliberate, and since I never procrastinate, I’m always done months before deadline. That’s how I fly. I listen to my inner children, paint every single day, and stay true to my art. It’s a gift.”

– Leslie Salzillo

Some people subscribe to very strict moral rules. These kinds of uncompromising promises can be very helpful in regulating our actions because they provide very clear guidelines for behavior. And while very strict rules can be incredibly helpful, if they are broken, as they often are, the person who has failed once can no longer think of themselves as honest and moral, and from there it is much easier to start behaving badly in all kinds of ways. So, while strict moral rules can be helpful in reducing the chances that we will misbehave, flexibility is useful in preventing one dishonest act from becoming a long sequence of undesirable behavior.

Dan – Dan Ariely

Adrian Schlesinger

Untitled (Color Figure Study) & Untitled (Black Figure Study)

Acrylic on vellum

4' x 7'

Using a photocopier and projector to enlarge small gestural figure studies created on 18" x 24" bond paper to a larger scale, 5' x 7' matte translucent vellum, Schlesinger explores the tenuous boundaries between observation and projection.

As David Hockney's thesis, Secret Knowledge suggests, historically artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio embraced optical devices. Even so, contemporary artists and patrons will argue that the use of such technology is a form of creative dishonesty because it rewards the artist and viewer with near instant gratification while discouraging the artist from further developing their skill.

By creating exercises that employ a spectrum of techniques that challenge the confines of the creative process, Schlesinger explores her personal ethics and tolerance for creative dishonesty.

“Capturing” an Image: When is it “Cheating?”

Observation-only drawing with Model Present
Drawing from Memory without Model Present
Drawing from a Photo with Model Present
Drawing from a Photo without Model Present
Trace from a Photo
Drawing from an Observation-only drawing by another artist
Scan Observation-only Drawing and enlarge with a projector

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Morality, like art, means drawing a line somewhere.” When it comes to morality within art, the line gets increasingly fuzzy. Of course, in art these boundaries are not nearly as defined as “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” or the “generally accepted accounting principles.” What this means is that individual artists and the profession as a whole are facing daily temptations to push the line and redefine what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. And while blurring the line even further might serve the immediate needs of a few artists from time to time, it may not necessarily be good for the profession or the community.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Artistic Liberty

Ryan Slagle

Artistic Liberty

Acrylic, Toner Ink & Charcoal on Board

20" x 16"

Artistic Liberty addresses the relationship between the Artist, his creation and the audience by questioning the Artist's honesty with regard to the portrayal of his subject, and the intended/unintended consequences of any manipulation of the subject on the viewership.

Using Nena Leen's photograph The Irascibles (1951), which features famous artists such as Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Hedda Sterne, and Mark Rothko, Slagle manipulated the image to include the likeness of the Artist – calling into question the right of ownership of the image, its authenticity and the purpose of the manipulation.

The viewing of fine art is one of the few activities in which the viewer is often willingly and yet unknowingly exposed to falsehoods and is generally accepting of the image that is presented. In this piece, the viewer must examine the image closely to discern what is out of place and confront the notion that fine art is built on a foundation that encourages manipulation, for better or worse.

One of the things we find in terms of cheating is that once we see other people who are like us or part of our social group behave in dishonest ways, we too loosen our moral compass to some degree and find it easier to cheat a bit more. Does this mean that when artists see other artists behave in questionable ways they too find it easier to pass some moral boundaries? Most likely yes. And is it the case that asking artists to create art that is inherently about dishonesty is likely to get them to be more dishonest down the line? And is it the case that exposing dishonest art to more artists can further increase their level of deception? And is it the case that showing this art to an audience can influence these individuals too to cheat more as well? I am not sure. Maybe – we will have to find out.

Dan – Dan Ariely
The Promise of a New Day

Geraud Staton

The Promise of a New Day

Oil on canvas

16" x 20"

The idea that “everyone cheats a little and no one cheats very big” was intriguing to me. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but I feel like, for this statement, maybe there aren't as many as we would like to believe.

It was the acceptance of that rule that inspired this piece. In The Promise of a New Day, the person standing at the podium doesn't have to be a politician, though I'm sure this is the most prevalent example. She just represents anyone who talks to “we, the people.” She could be a news anchor, a politician, a scientist giving a speech on new research, or a PR person spinning a new movie.

When we are with our friends, it's easy to talk about how little we can trust any of these people. “Why would Apple tell us the truth about how long their product will work?” And yet, we stop and listen whenever they talk to us. We listen, absorb, and for a little while, we believe. And even if we don’t believe, we almost always accept what they are telling us.

At some point, we measured the level of cheating in a bar in Washington, DC where politicians are known to gather. We carried out the same experiment in a bar in New York City, where many of the customers are Wall Street bankers. Who do you think cheated more – the politicians or the bankers? I was certain that it was going to be the politicians, but our results showed the opposite; the bankers cheated about twice as much. However, some caution should be taken in interpreting these results because the politicians we tested were junior politicians – mainly Congressional staffers. So they had plenty of room for growth and development....

Dan – Dan Ariely
The Miscreants

Fay Terry

The Miscreants

Acrylic on canvas

28" x 40"

The Miscreants proudly displays an artistic burlesque of “cheating,” rendered in an expressionistic style. Influenced by James Ensor, Terry depicts masked characters, grotesque facial features, and a humorous awareness of the variety of ways in which cheating occurs.

In Plato's “Myth of the King of Gyges,” a shepherd named Gyges finds a ring that makes him invisible. With this newfound power, he decides to go on a crime spree. He travels to the king's court, seduces the queen, conspires with her to kill the king, and takes control of the kingdom. In telling this story, Plato wonders whether there is anyone alive who could resist taking advantage of such power. The good news is that in our experiments we find that the answer is yes: People do remain honest to some degree – even when they are perfectly “masked” by anonymity

Dan – Dan Ariely
Good Clean Pure Fresh New

Jordi Williams

Good Clean Pure Fresh New

Linoleum flooring, tape, paint, stool, .mp3 player, recording

7.5' x 6' x 4.5'

Good Clean Pure Fresh New playfully presents viewers with an alternative way to be rid of their sins – a receptacle for bad energy and past misdeeds. Seated before a large pink arrangement of tape and paint on linoleum, viewers put on headphones and take part in a guided cleansing. Using language directly informed by guided meditations, Wiccan cleansing spells and other New Age tactics, the recording directs viewer-participants into a meditative state. Viewers are then instructed to gather all negative energy or guilt and feed into the pink tape web, where it is dissolved.

When we start down the trail of misbehavior, what could get us to reset ourselves and start over? If we can't press rewind, can we at least change the channel? We find that there are all many social mechanisms that seem to be designed specifically for resetting our moral compass and overcoming the downward slope of moral deterioration. Such rituals – ranging from the Catholic confession to Yom Kippur to Ramadan – present us with myriad opportunities to collect ourselves, stop the degeneration in its tracks, and turn a new page. (You can even think of New Year's resolutions, birthdays, changes of job, and romantic breakups as “resetting” opportunities). We have recently started carrying out basic experiments on the effectiveness of these types of resetting approaches (using a non-religious version of the Catholic confession) – and so far it seems that, with this method of catharsis and rebirth, people can rather successfully start over and open new pages.

Dan – Dan Ariely
Quoted Revelation Codes

Matthew Zigler

Quoted Revelation Codes

Ink on paper

5 posters, 24" x 36" each

In keeping with his passion for incorporating audience participation into his artwork, Zigler created QR codes for videos of creative individuals recounting their first memories of being “dishonest,” recorded specifically for this project.

“Why are creative people more willing to bend the rules than the average person? When did this tendency start? What are our earliest or most significant memories of this experience? I believe we are able to insert layers of justification and explanation between ourselves and these decisions, locking them in an abstract and encoded form that makes them seem more magical and acceptable to ourselves and others.”

– Matthew Zigler

Our incredible ability to rationalize away our bad behaviors allows us to behave badly and almost instantly put our transgressions aside – and keep on thinking of ourselves as wonderful, honest people. It also makes us feel “holier than thou” when we look at others misbehaving, and accordingly judge them more severely than ourselves. But what if we remembered some of our dishonest actions, and what if we were reminded of our own sins just before we judged the mistakes of others? Would we feel more empathy, or be more forgiving? And on the negative side, could reminding us about our own dishonesty actually lead us down the road to immorality?

Dan – Dan Ariely