Interactive Installation & Colonial Vegetables Sewn Sampler with Face Capture
Blue Boar situates a participant in the Salem witch trial of my 10th great-grandmother, Mary Bradbury.
Using a programmatic and sculptural interface, the piece situates a visitor at the notorious 17th century Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts, America. One of the preposterous claims against which my ancestor was convicted was that she had metamorphosed into a blue boar in her garden. When encountering the Blue Boar artwork, a visitor is virtually placed in the stance of the accused as his facial likeness is live-captured and projected, as part of a luminous blue boar apparition, onto a sculpted pig form
Blue Boar was the inaugural exhibition in the New Britain Museum of American Art's New Media Space within the Contemporary Gallery, Oct 2011 - Jan 2012.
The installation Blue Boar situates a participant in the imagination space of those attending the 1692 Salem witchcraft trial of my 10th great-grandmother, Mary Bradbury. To emphasize the absurdity of the scenario, I pare down a historic story to magnify the details —that a woman was convicted of witchcraft for having allegedly turned herself into a blue boar. I use an imagined witness -the vegetables- to tell their side of what really happened that day behind the gate.
Long before the witch trials, the Carr and Bradbury families of Salem had a history of contention. The discord was based on land disputes, broken love affairs and social allegiances common to a small town. For years, the Carrs conjured tales about Mary, the Matriarch of the Bradbury Family. The accusations included Mary having brought illness upon the sick, appearing menacingly near the windlass of a ship bound for Barbados, and turning herself into a blue boar. Upon her conviction, Mary was 75 years old and a well-respected member of the Salem church. Despite her piety, the Carrs' stories were enough to lead to her sentencing. It was young Richard Carr who claimed that he, his father, and Zerubabel Endicott were traveling down the road one day on horseback, when the blue boar incident occurred.
“...about thirteen years ago, presently after some difference that happened to be between my honored father, Mr. George Carr, and Mrs. Bradbury, the prisoner at the bar, upon a Sabbath at noon, as we were riding home, by the house of Captain Tho:Bradbury, I saw Mrs. Bradbery goe into her gate. Turne the corner. And immediately there darted out of her gate a blue boar, and darted at my father’s horse’s legs, which made him stumble; but I saw it no more. And my father said, 'Boys, what do you see?' We both answered, A blue boar.
Having heard the story of Mary turning herself into a blue boar many times, I have compressed my mental image of the accuser -Mr. Robert Carr- into the likeness of his horse. The fantastical nature of Carr’s testimony grounds my mind in the metamorphosis inherent to the story. Over time, my imagination has removed the men present in the Bradbury’s yard and replaced them with a singular talking horse. It is this image of a horse towering over the accused in the courtroom which I assume as fact when I digitally retell my version of the tall tale in video over 300 years later.
The young women who seemed to be afflicted by the power of the “witches” staged phantasmagoric spectacles complete with cries of terror and bodily fits. As theater was banned in Puritan society, those attending the trials had no context for these displays within the realm of acting. The goings on could only have been understood as the work of evil forces. The minds of those in attendance vacillated between the stark physical space of the Puritan meetinghouse, the fantastical descriptions told on the witness stand, and the performances of those being “overcome.”
My pairing of object/media interaction in the Blue Boar installation recalls the scene in 1692 Salem. The railing, and stool ground the participant in the courtroom. The switching video manifests the frenzied imaginations of those in attendance. The raked placement of the boar allows the reader to see him or herself projected, experiencing a