michaela davies 04.03.2015 – 27.03.2015


Yawning Room is a participatory audio/video installation aiming to induce involuntary yawning responses in the viewer upon exposure to the work, thus contributing, in real time, to the environment created by the multiple yawners in the installation.

The work comprises three channel video, projecting six subjects at a time, accompanied by a six channel audio track. The 23 subjects in Yawning Room were filmed as they watched videos of people yawning, and, in turn, provide yawning stimuli for the viewer. The accompanying six channel composition was created from dry and processed recordings of yawns.

Yawning Room is a continuation of Davies’ interest in using involuntary mechanisms of the body as a tool for composition, and participatory art as performative research. An experiment in the induction of involuntary audience participation, the viewer creates an additional layer to the installation.

While the causes of contagious yawning are still unknown, the relationship between yawn contagion and empathy is strongly supported. The hypothesised behavioural response in the viewer is an embodied realization of connectedness- a shared moment of art viewing lassitude.


Michaela is a cross-disciplinary artist whose practice is informed by an interest in the role of psychological and physical agency in creative processes and performance. Her recent work has used electric muscle stimulation to both obstruct and extend human capabilities through the elicitation of involuntary movement in performers.