Erdem Taşdelen


I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation

Single-channel HD video
12' 11"

I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation is a speculative take on what forced political confessions might look like in the age of facial reenactment and artificial voice technologies. The project is inspired by a text performed in 1987 by Mehdi Hashemi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard who was identified as having worked against the Islamic Republic and told that his crimes would be pardoned if he confessed them on state television. The televised confession may have been instrumental in coercing the general public into loyalty to the regime, but ultimately did not save Hashemi from being executed. Focusing on the theatrics of this performance, I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation reworks the transcript of Hashemi’s confession to eliminate the historical facts, and creates an abstract, absurd and semi-fictitious narrative.

The project is based upon the premise that a forced confession no longer requires a real performance from the confessor-to-be, since current technologies make it possible to map another performer’s facial movements onto the face of the "confessor" and synthesize a voice that realistically imitates their acoustic patterns of speech. The video features a behind-the-scenes performance of this technology where we encounter a young male actor reading lines from a confessional script, whose facial movements will supposedly be mapped onto an unnamed confessor's face. The accompanying audio track combines his performance with an AI vocal avatar trained to mimic his voice and intonation, thereby prompting the viewer’s awareness of the fabricated nature of what is seen.

I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation was produced with support from KulturKontakt Austria and the Canada Council for the Arts.