Detector of Connection
The face of the polygraph claims that it is the Detector of Deception. But you soon realize the show isn’t about truth; it is about interaction and emotion. Liz has created a structure to have interactions with random people. This highlights the physical and emotional sensations that are part of social interaction. The performance reveals how we affect each other.
The people coming to see this performance find themselves in an unfamiliar form of social interaction. They come into a glass room and sit down at a table across from Liz. They don’t really know what to say to her and she doesn’t really have anything in particular to say to them. The rules and purposes of the exchange have to get made up on the spot. The polygraph meter serves as a stand in reason for interaction – you want to get that bar to move. The ‘audience’ is on the line. They find themselves having to bring something to offer the performance. People want to succeed in this strange social setting and the way to determine your success is measured by how far the meter moves. Liz said a lot of people are really uncomfortable when they first enter the room.
When it was my turn to go into the glass room and sit across from Liz I asked her how it felt for her to be a performer performing just herself. While she was thinking, before she responded, the meter of the polygraph lifted partway up the dial. Then she said that being herself is what the project was about. This performance is a way for her to emphasize being real and present with people – to practice it. And we get to practice it with her, if we choose.