LINDA DUVALL Visual and Media Artist

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POLYGRAPH 2005

“Four people are sent to an RCMP polygraph examiner to be tested about the same fictional guilt-ridden situation concerning a childhood mishap.”

Polygraph consists of a three channel video installation focused on a consideration of truth and lies through the use of polygraph tests.
I sent 4 individuals to receive a polygraph test. Each person sent was chosen based on their culturally perceived relationship to truth and the construction of lies – an actor, a clergy person, a person who has been trained to detect lies in others, etc. Each was prepared with the same starting point – a fictional event based on an occurrence in my own childhood concerning an accident in an abandoned house. Beginning with this familiar situation, each participant constructed their own version of this event to present to the polygraph tester.


The polygraph tests were completed by Mike Robinson, RCMP polygraph tester for the province of Saskatchewan until his retirement. A crucial element in the process of the polygraph test occurs at the end when the subject is cajoled to confess, regardless of the actual results provided by the machine. In this project, a potential confession is made more knotty in that the original situation is totally constructed by myself, and then reconstructed through the imaginations of the participants.


The polygraph raises questions concerning the contribution of science as opposed to our individual perceptions of truth.