Democracy requires a public to believe that their votes matter, or at least to suspend their disbelief that they don't. In the modern era, voters have expressed their commitment to that belief within the confines of a shower-sized cubicle known as the voting booth. The voting booth provides a physical space in which to hold your breath, to believe, much like going to the theater. In fact, theater and democracy have never been very distant, having a common origin in Ancient Greek society.
Virtual Reality technology, as a form of theater, has essentially eliminated the audience’s need to suspend disbelief, aiming to place the viewer directly in a scene or situation, removing any effort on the part of the imagination. For Wheeler, democracy has not followed the same trajectory. Instead, today’s political landscape seems to require further stretches of our imagination... more belief that one individual can make a difference, more hope that the will of the collective is being reflected in its leadership.
Wheeler investigates the modern-day convergence of theater and politics, using historical objects and contemporary technologies. Both on a stage and behind a curtain, he asks the viewer to confront relationships that are neither completely convincing nor fully undeniable.