AMENTIA is PHI’s first foray in producing an interactive, new media installation. It is a project where technology is an essential part of the creative process, while also meeting our artistic objectives. Jean-François Mayrand proposed the project in 2009, introducing a novel approach to the cinematic experience by creating immersive technology and active viewing for the spectator. Essential to the premise of the installation was the notion of sensory envelopment in a dialogue of gestures with a madman. The challenge was to find a credible environment for the public to react in a natural and intuitive manner. A scale of madness was designed to respond in an unpredictable manner, and various forms of in-depth research into mental illness were undertaken.

The theme of comorbidity was developed in a workshop with Russian director Oleg Kisselev and Montreal actor Gaétan Nadeau. A corporal language, pushed to the extreme, was created to incite the actor to reconsider his own psychological nature. Intense preparation and training were needed for Nadeau to maintain an organic response. The result is an invitation for individual visitors to interact with a man who suffers from multiple mental disorders, and to experience this relationship in an intimate and constrained environment where the choice of movement and sound will create a multiplicity of reactions from the patient.

Filmed with the superior quality of the Red One Camera, the patient lives in an anonymous, glaringly white world where reality becomes irreality. We feel the darkness close in as the patient exhibits more and more disassociation to our presence, as the life-sized portrait looms before of us in nightmarish detail.

Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.

— Ray Bradbury

Phoebe Greenberg