Box of Fear

Kexin Lin, Marco Wylie, Rachel Lim, Tianyi Xie, Zhe Wang

A box that educates fear is NOT where you think it is.



Our project is a box that utilizes Joseph E. Ledoux’s research to communicate that the subjective and objective states of fear are generated by two systems within our brain: one is responsible for physiological responses triggered by the amygdala, while the other elicits the “feeling” of fear and is related to areas of the brain that generate cognitive processes. This finding argues against the prior assumption that fear was generated by one system in the amygdala.

Our box will simultaneously educate about and elicit fear from users through display text on acrylic panels, a diagram of the brain formed by el wire, and tactical/sensory components within the box. When the user approaches it, they will be exposed to introductory text and audio about the research described above. They will then be encouraged to stick their hand inside a hole in the box, which will trap their hand and force them to interact with the internal mechanisms. The interior has three components on each side of the box: a rotating object akin to a drill, a vibrating motor, and a variety of soft/slimy materials. Each one will light up related content on the panels that delves into detail about each system in the “two systems” framework.

If the user wishes to leave or has completed perusing the contents they can press a button located on the top of the box to release their hand. Afterwards, they will receive a sticker and conclusive information about the research at the end of the experience.


Playful Communication of Serious Research


Marco Wylie

Undercover is an autobiographical performance that weaves vignettes of memory, music and pop culture imagery into a narrative that explores misogyny, gender, and identity from the perspective of a transman.


As a transgender man, I’ve realized that there are things that men say to each other in the absence of women and things women say to each other in the absence of men. In fact, there are many changes I’ve noticed, particularly in the way that people treat and perceive me after transitioning. I now find myself in the predicament of being held accountable for a social history of misogyny that I’ve lived on the receiving end of for many years prior. Undercover shares this perspective through a 5-minute show.

The viewer doesn’t know any of this backstory when they enter the space. During the piece, the viewer listens and watches a narrative that uses sound, light, images, a two-way mirror, with an element of surprise at the end. It takes place inside of a curtained off, dark space, similar to a photo or fortune-telling booth, where the viewer enters and sits down on the chair in front of a black wall that frames a 12” x 12” mirror and puts on headphones. The narration begins with the viewer looking at their own reflection. A minute in, the lights are gradually dimmed, and images relating to the audio are projected on a screen on the other side of the mirror. In the last 45 seconds, the images disappear and the light inside the space changes to reveal the narrator (me) sitting on the other side of the mirror. Putting myself in the space with the viewer on the other side of the divider, and making eye contact through the two-way mirror during the last moments of the show, breaks down the fourth wall and further humanizes the story. I understand that this may be a bit uncomfortable and that is by design.