Alter Ethos is a sculptural art installation and publication that was inspired by the ancient philosophy and analyses of rhetoric. In this school of thought, emotional reactions to our experiences are directly based upon our perception of ourselves, which alters according to our perception of our reality. Essentially, one perceives oneself a certain way and expects to project that perception onto others. Emotions are impacted by the incongruity of how others perceive you in contrast to your perception of yourself. Thus, our emotions are rhetorical constructions that shift based on our perception of the outside world.
The installation consists of a series of busts sculpted out of plaster that are juxtaposed against fragmented pieces of mirror and clear plexiglass through which viewers will view their reflection combined and distorted with somebody else. Two of the busts are altered, as they are front pieces grafted together to signify the contrast between the inward and the outward. The ambiguity of the busts confuses the identities of the viewers themselves. This addresses the anxieties that surround self-perception and creates an interactive experience that immerses the viewer into a situation where they become fragmented from their own projected image.
Alter Ethos was installed in a gallery at 62 Walker Street in Soho in New York City in May 2013. The exhibition was called De Facto, which from Latin translates to “concerning fact.”