The Institute of Misinformation

Another social experiment on truth and misleading information, 2017

Above: overview of Fort Maarsseveen, the exhibition and information plaque no.1 (front) and no.9 (on top of the fort)

The Institute of Misinformation is an ongoing research-based project I started in Spring 2017, to research the effects of graphic design in relation to the authority of signs and symbols and how those influence our behavior. If presented as real, how far can one go in a world of alternative facts and fake news before you lose the trust of the reader or participant?

This project was made for the exhibition VijandSchap at Fort Maarsseveen. Since the fort didn’t have its own signage and information plaques, I couldn’t let go of this opportunity… Nine plaques and one signage board were created, creating a tour around the fort which visitors would be able to follow.

The signs were all fake: visitors new up front (if they had read the exhibition folder) that some of the information on the plaques wasn’t real, it was just not clear which information on display was fake. It was for the people to find out by themselves; knowing they were tricked one way or another, they started questioning everything they wouldn’t have questioned before. Some people who did not visit the fort for the exhibition but only looked around the structure and followed the route on the plaques as if they were real, not knowing it was actually an art project.

Receptions were great, lots of people felt like they were playing a game, figuring out which parts of the provided information were real and which were not. Others felt offended, feeling tricked and feeling it was unfair, because the plaques looked “too real”.

Below: exhibition overview with several of the information plaques and how visitors interacted with them: