The rules that make you safe

An interactive installation that explains Anorexia as a ruled-based Eating Disorder.

📍 Context

Understand “rules” as the routine that thousands of anorexics are living every day for years. Those rules are a space from the hard reality that their minds had created.

Understand as well, that anorexia is not just “girls that don’t want to eat because they want to be skinny”. It is not about that. Those are not ill, they are just wannabes, and they can start eating normally again easy. Because anorexia is not about that. It is not about the food at all.

Anorexics love food, but their minds created some sort of logic where in order to be successful, they need to be confident. And because of the beauty standards established, being thin and pretty makes life easier.

When anorexia hits deep inside, you start personalising the illness. Actually, it has a name on the internet, Ana. If you google a little, you can easily find a letter where Ana talks to you in a friendly but harsh way, asking you to be her friend.

Why would someone choose to starve? Because Ana will make your life easier.

Ana is your safety blanket, she will make your way. But you have to behave, you have to follow her rules.

💡 The project

In this installation, you can interact with Ana, the lying machine who is “inside” this structure, repeating you the rules that will help you to be successful.

To start the interaction, sit on the chair and read through the booklets that you find on the pedestal. That’s Ana’s letter. By reading it, you are now trapped.

Put on the headphones, press the big green button, and look forward to the mirror. Once Ana is awake, she will repeat to you the rules that will make you look great on that distorted mirror.

Depending on how much pressure you put the projections will change, which means that as you are being more harsh to yourself, your reality is more and more distorted.

🛠 How does it work

The project is powered by Arduino, which connects the big button and a pressure sensor to Max/Msp, which gets the audiovisual experience started.

By pushing the big green button, Max/Msp receives the signal that the interaction has started so the projector is now on and ready to dictate to distort your reality.

The pressure sensor takes a big part on this too, as a metaphor of as the more pressure Ana puts to you, she takes more of you. Therefore, speed of the audio that you are hearing increases, same as the speed of the distorted projections on the mirrors.

All this evilness in concentrated on a box of this dimensions that in real life I have embedded to a pedestal to hide the laptop and the projector from the users.

👀 Conclusion

With this project, I want to show that anorexia is not just about being skinny, but a full mind-body control produced by the desire to finally be confident.

When Ana is deep inside you, your reality and emotions are distorted and you start losing your values and taking hers, even she is only in your head.