"What is your truth?" Don't be shy. Just take two minutes to let it out inside a touring public art installation called In Search of the Truth..., which has been collecting videos across the world over the last six years.
Residing inside a giant, inflatable speech bubble, the "Truth Booth," as it's nicknamed, opens to the public April 19 in Palo Alto.
The booth is the brainchild of The Cause Collective, a team of artists, designers and anthropologists dedicated to exploring ideas that affect and shape society.
"We have thousands of videos now," says visual artist Jim Ricks, the team member who'll be manning the booth in Palo Alto. "What surprised me is how people open up on a very personal level. Maybe they say something off the cuff, but you can tell it's true. The way people are being truthful is what it's capturing."
Ricks says the project grew out of another one the Collective did at UCSF called The Truth Is I Am You. That public art installation featured a series of speech balloons, each displaying a single line, starting with the words "The truth is," such as:
The truth is I love you.
The truth is I know you.
The truth is I see you.
Et cetera. Each line was translated into one of the languages spoken by the student body. Ricks says the artists felt they needed to follow that installation with something more interactive.
"We started trying to figure out a way to ask the public what the truth was, instead of telling them," he says.
Since the Truth Booth's original launch in Ireland, it's been all over the world, including South Africa and Afghanistan. Palo Alto is the last stop on the booth's US tour. Afterward, it heads to Australia.
What happens to all the video?
After each installation, the team puts together a collection of moments that then show in the locations where the videos were collected. The team is also planning a web site that will host compilations focused around specific topics like love and war.
Here's a sample compilation from the launch of "In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth)" at the Galway Arts Festival, July 2011.
"The truth is not to be discovered," says one man featured in the video, "until we're dead. I'm nearly dead, so the truth will shortly emerge."
Ricks says the statements are all over the place. Some people prepare their remarks beforehand. Others just let loose and speak from the heart, opening up about topics such as their political views. It all depends on where the booth is set up.
"Sometimes the two converge, as when people in Flint spoke about their daily struggle over water," Ricks says. "The Truth Booth takes a portrait of a people at a given place and time."
The installation runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 2017 on King Plaza in front of City Hall at 250 Hamilton Ave. More info here.