5 into 1 show

I have work in the upcoming 5 into 1 show being held at Moore. Each year the show features work of graduating students from the 5 philly art schools. It’s great to be selected (along with sara gersbach) and be recognized for my work. I’m honestly using this as a trial run for a few ideas for my thesis, so it was nice to be able to see how a few things worked in print and in the gallery. I am slightly confused by the fact that when I submitted work, it was through my program director, Paul, who told us about the show as the 5 school show. However, the invitation card clearly calls it a “sculpture” show. Well, my work is clearly not sculptural (and neither is sara’s), but it was accepted in, so I guess I shouldn’t feel awkward about that. Anyway, the reception is on June 2nd at Moore in the afternoon, so come and check it out. These are the prints I got into the show, but really, you need to see them in person, full size.

Social Status, Jake

Social Status, Joe

Social Status, Mallory

The Business of Distraction

“Google, as the supplier of the Web’s principal navigational tools, also shapes our relationship with the content that it serves up so efficiently and in such profusion. The intellectual technologies it has pioneered promote the speedy, superficial skimming of information and discourage andy deep, prolonged engagement with a single argument, idea, or narrative. ‘Our goal,’ says Irene Au, ‘is to get users in and our really quickly. All our design decisions are based on that strategy.’ Google’s profits are tied directly to the velocity of people’s information intake. The faster we surf across the surface of the Web – the more links we click and pages we view – the more opportunities Google gains to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Its advertising system moreover, is explicitly designed to figure out which messages are most likely to grab our attention and then to place those message in our field of view. Every click we make on the Web marks a break in our concentration, a bottom-up disruption of our attention – and it’s in Google’s economic interest to make sure we click as often as possible. The last thing the company wants is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. Google is, quite literally, in the business of distraction.” The Shallows, 156

This quote from The Shallows sums up one critical part of what my written thesis and my work is really about. The Internet cannot be viewed as a neutral force because it is being used and shaped by entities that have only their own goals in mind. Were this to be all I focused on, I could see some kind of pitchfork and torches moment where I urge everyone to rip out their wi-fi routers and ethernet cables. But instead, I see this as much more of a public service announcement. The Internet is already engrained in our society, and barring anything unforeseeable, there is no going back, and the truth is that its high points are a continual benefit to the world. So, surf with caution. Browse with a grain of salt. Click deliberately. And take a moment to pause and take in your surroundings, even if they are digital. Your brain will thank you.

Speaking of Distractions
Sometimes I think best after I have been sufficiently distracted from the task at hand. That can take the form of a game (Carcassonne, Kingdom Builder, Survive!…) or a tv show/movie, but tonight it was baking. I enjoy cooking immensely, and most nights I cook for my wife and I. However, I’m not much of a baker, so this afternoon I expanded my horizons a bit and made a Vanilla Pecan Danish Puff Pastry. I must say, I’m pretty proud of myself.

Memory and Technology

A book I’m reading for thesis says that the “Internet is a technology of forgetfulness”. That sounds counterintuitive at first. Everything that can be archived, is, ensuring that nothing will be forgotten (as long as compatibility holds out, but that’s another issue). But with that as such a reassurance, I have no motivation to remember anything, ever. If Facebook didn’t remind us of our friend’s birthdays, would you still remember them? There are almost no questions that can’t be answered with a few taps on the keyboard, but what does that do to us as people? It separates us from any ownership of knowledge, of the stuff it takes to live life. We constantly rely on this external force to remember for us, and eventually it will come to the point where we forget how to be people and how to merely exist.

Anyway, I’ve been working pretty intensely back and forth on my written and visual thesis. I have found that they are informing one another in a really beneficial way, to the point that I think I’ll need to continue doing some reading and writing in future work.

These are two different versions of an image that I"m currently working on. They are created by combining an image from every single one of my Facebook friends’ profiles. I wanted to make it after thinking about identity, information overload, and the ambiguity vs. specificity that is at play online. It was a surprise (and a happy one) that a reasonably specific form was created. I was expecting a blur, but instead I got a new figure, that if they actually existed I think they would be recognizable.
Right now on my written thesis I’m working on filling out my section on Google as the “dialectical good evil”(Christian Fuchs, Google Capitalism). There are an awful lot of things at play, but when looking at the situation from one step back, we have to ask whether Google is actually holding to its slogan “Don’t be Evil”, or if its exploitation of the “audience commodity” reveals its true colors as just another money grubbing global corporation. You’ll have to actually read my thesis to find out more.