Networks

2014 - 2016

Networks is comprised of two main sections. The first, Connection shows the traditional ways we stay in touch with one another. It has three parts: Doorbells, Mailboxes, and Public Telephones. These are straight up documentary photographs. The second section, Connext considers mobile devices. It has five still image parts: Fullscreen, Handheld, Mobile Friendly, Smartphone, and WhatApp?, plus Search a section of movies.

The stills in Connext are made with different post-photographic manipulations. The images in Fullscreen are layered with their ASCII versions. The photo files in Handheld are subjected to an algorithmic operation that creates pixel spread. In Mobile Friendly, images of apps are collaged into photographs shot in the streets of Toronto. WhatApp? presents images of a cell phone in someone’s hand and features the app in current use. The phone’s screen remains unaltered but everything outside the phone is somewhat pixilated.

In Search, movies are constructed from material found through Internet search procedures. To make Google Search: Why Don’t We, the phrase ‘Why don’t we’ was entered into a Google search box; text from sites that came up in response play in sequence. To make Missed Connections, texts from craigslist’s missed connections crawl across streaming webcam portraits. 187Gangstersz is a string of episodes shot by prisoners from around the world. 187 is the criminal code for murder in California. Smartphone is an animated gif built around the icon of the cell phone. Artificial Life presents images found on Tor. Its sound track is made from appropriated elements. And finally Gregslist Vine is a live snippet from Vine, a short-form video hosting service where users share six-second-long looping video clips.

The images in Connext represent behaviours once restricted to the personal sphere that are now conducted in public. Pervasive uptake has made mobile devices a requisite of contemporary life. While a mobile device is a component of identity, adoption transforms its user into an order of cyborg. No one signs up for this condition. Rather, from its ability to facilitate interpersonal contact, to personal memory storage, to use as a navigational tool and all purpose life guide, and from its relentless pull on attention, the status of cyborg follows naturally.

On the darker side, government and industry have adapted mobile devices as tracking devices. They divulge the user’s preoccupations, predilections, finances, movements, politics and more. Nevertheless the enablement and convenience of the mobile device persuades people to ignore or else accept these disclosures. But that’s not the half of it. The handheld device houses an onslaught of personalized advertising, celebrity culture, social media and Youtube circulation, some of it benign, some not. However, whatever the drawbacks, can one really afford to opt out?