I Confess began as a project for an exhibition called “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance”. Originally I was working with the idea of public eavesdropping in order to collect information for my piece.  But then I heard a story on the radio about a new iPhone app (see description below) and it got me thinking in a different direction.

Confession: A Roman Catholic app, thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority, walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the program describes as a “personalized examination of conscience for each user”. In order to get people to participate I put together the below request:

For this project I invite you to eavesdrop on yourself, spend a moment doing your own personal surveillance and then anonymously share the results with me.  Below is what I am asking:

  • Think about something you have done or a thought that you consider somehow shameful or to be a secret. What would you hate to have a private eye catch you doing or thinking?
  • Please write that on a piece of paper and send it back to me in the SASE this request came in.
  • I suggest nothing handwritten, please print out your response- this will further protect your identity.
  • DO NOT include your name or any other personal identification info in the response.

I use the information I receive to create text pieces for the project.

I initially sent out two hundred requests to people I knew as well as to strangers.  Many were left in public places like restaurants, bathrooms, airplane seats etc. Out of the two hundred I sent out I received back 23 responses.  I took each response and hand wrote it out on a 7×5” clayboard panel. For the exhibit the panels were displayed on shelves.

I have decided to continue the project and I hope you will consider participating- if you would like to be part of the project please write out your confession and send it anonymously to:

Nigel Poor
Department of Design
CSU, Sacramento
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6137

Why should you do it?  Well I have heard that letting out a secret is sometimes the best way to divest yourself of troubling thoughts- who knows.  If you follow the steps above your response will be anonymous- I have no interest in knowing who submitted which confession, nor will I spend an iota of effort trying to figure that out.

Why do I want to do this? What can I say? I am nosey, I am interested in human nature and why we do the things we do. I am curious about what we consider sin or bad actions.  I wonder how similar our sense of sin and shame is.  If you decide to participate I hope you take the project seriously and honestly write out your “confession”.  I am not interested in jokey responses or lies.

I thank you for your time and consideration.