BRIEF: Make a pilot for a project that exposes and explores something about the materiality of digital information processing. Your pilot should critically and creatively engage with this material dimension of information processing raised in module classes and resources.
‘The Dark Side of the Cloud’
Short Proposal: For my project, I will produce a conceptual sculpture that aims to explore the dark and fragile side of the internet. I will get a server or a black box computer and I will take off one of the panels revealing of the inside of the machine I will then fill it with; photographs, bank statements and other personal information. Aiming to make the viewer contemplate how safe their personal data really is, that we store on these machines which have become such a prevalent part of all of our lives.
Long Proposal: For my project, I will produce a conceptual sculpture that aims to explore the dark and fragile side of the internet, questioning the propaganda surrounding the cloud and the notion it is a non-toxic, innocuous, safe heaven for us to trust and have faith in. Particularly typifying the facade around the idea that the cloud is this clean, free, meritocracy where we the people are in control, in fact, server farms are a huge contributor to global warming and machines monitor us all the time, it is also not this wireless imperceptible cloud above our heads, it is made up of a fragile infrastructure that’s held up with cables which cover the globe.
I am taking inspiration from artist Cornelia Parker for this project, specifically her sculpture titled ‘Psycho Barn’ image of which can be seen in my mood board below. The sculpture is a replica of the house from the Hitchcock film ‘Psycho’ which Parker had made from reclaimed wood from American style red barns, the house looks sinister and intimidating. However it is constructed like a film set and only has two sides, so it looks believable?from one angle, but you only have to walk around it to see it is being propped up by scaffolding. The reason I am influenced by Parker’s ‘Psycho Barn’ sculpture is because it is a perfect representation of a facade, I feel like the notion of ‘the cloud’ is also the epitome of a facade, I think there are definite links between what Parker is saying through her sculpture and what I am attempting to do with mine, and hopefully I will achieve a similar reaction and sense of deceit from the piece that I intend to make.
To make the sculpture I will reclaim an old disused server or black-box style computer as the base of my piece, I will then take off one of the panels to reveal the inside of the server or computer, keeping the other three panels intact, doing this will mean the viewer will have to explore what may look like an ordinary object that they are used to seeing on a daily basis, but much like Cornelia Parkers ‘Psycho Barn’ the viewer has to walk around the sculpture to find the hidden message lying beneath. I will fill the interior of the machine with tangible objects as a metaphor to reference the amount of easily accessible personal items we thoughtlessly store and upload onto these machines, I will use objects such as; bank statements, phone numbers, addresses, personal photographs, credit cards and other personal items. In order to further personify the idea that our information isn’t floating above our heads in ‘the cloud,’ it is actually being stored on a machine somewhere connected to us through cable, an infrastructure?that hasn’t really changed since it’s inception. This sculpture will also heavily reference the work of artist Joseph Cornell, who is famous for assembling objects and collages inside glass-fronted boxes, he was also one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of Assemblage, which is art that is made by assembling disparate elements which are often scavenged by the artist, or sometimes bought specially.
To show the final piece I will put it on a white plinth, and make it look as though it is connected to the internet via an ethernet cable plugged into the wall, I will then document it by taking photographs and video, and getting feedback and reactions from my peers. As well as writing a series of blog posts about my thoughts, ideas and progress on this materiality of digital information processing project.
More Research Materials and Sources of Inspiration for this project include; Tim Berners-Lee, Jaron Lanier, Peter Gallison ‘The Ontology of the Enemy’, Lauren Rabinovitz ‘Memory Bytes: History, Technology, and Digital Culture’, Jay David Bolter ‘Turing’s Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age’. Artists; Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Susan Hiller, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Pablo Picasso, Shepard Fairey, Cornelia Parker, Matthew Barney, Rafal Rozendaal, Paolo Cirio and John Latham.