Soul Crushing Machine
multi-room installation
Meow Wolf OmegaMart
Created 2019, opened 2021

Soul Crushing Machine is a multi-room interactive installation featured as part of Meow Wolf Omega Mart, which opened in Las Vegas, NV, 2021. This installation features a 3D printed diorama, kinetic crushing mechanism, three interactive video screens plus a fourth transparent video screen attached to a live feed of participants walking through a separate capture area, installed on a different level. Other interactive components include sliders and buttons on a touch screen that manipulate a mix of audio elements. Soul Crushing Machine may be seen as a visual and rhetorical critique on corporate culture and the commercialization of the mind.

This work was a response to the idea of factory, which was part of the overall theme proposed for the Las Vegas installation. Factories often connote indifferent machinery, dictating the activities of the humans that work in them. People must synchronize with factory machines in order to repeatedly produce a product, causing people to behave as soulless machinations. Any deviation slowly gets crushed and displaced by efficiency. But who creates this atmosphere and who controls it?

In Soul Crushing Machine, participants are presented with buttons and sliders that control and change the environment that captured souls pass through, and these captured souls are coming from a live feed elsewhere in Omega Mart. It becomes apparent that the button-pushing participants may have also previously passed through the Soul Crushing Machine and certainly will again as they wander through Omega Mart. In this way it serves as a reminder that we are simultaneously the controller and the controlled, and so agents of our own realities.