Intervention and the Internet: new forms of public practice


Presentation Title:

  • Intervention and the Internet: new forms of public practice




  • Artist Statement

    Keyword Intervention uses the most popular search phrases from top search engines in forms that allude to the transitory nature of materiality. On one hand, it displays search phrases on a website where they are indexed by the search engines, appearing in the search results themselves, creating an intervention into the consumption of popular culture. Users searching for these words click on the Keyword Intervention site in the search engine results, and encounter a message about the intervention. This manifestation acknowledges that the Internet is a public space, where like the physical world, artists can enact dialogue by intervening in that space.

    ‘The first manifestation using the image of the mandala is a reference to the appreciation of this changing culture. The search phrases emanate slowly from the centre of a circular form on the ground via a computer projection. It is intentionally meditative, similar to the creation of sand paintings by Buddhist monks, a religious construction acknowledging our temporary material forms. The method by which these words gain popularity has a relationship to historical searches; in quests for knowledge or enlightenment, pilgrimages, crusades for religious artifacts, etc.
    Another manifestation reconfigures the search phrases into a starburst or mandala data visualization referencing the hypnotizing worship of popular content. Here the most popular result is found in the centre, where, similar to the use of mandala, we are at one with god. Marketers insert themselves into the public space of the Internet by using popular search engine terms (a.k.a. keywords) to increase traffic, and ultimately sales to commercial websites. Marketing tactics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) help to intercept searches via these terms, creating desire for their products by inserting themselves into this interaction. Like other work by the artist, Keyword Intervention co-opts advertising strategies to cultivate critical reflection. Both manifestations operate in real time, using public space and publicly available information to construct a place of dialogue through new forms.

    Technical information for Keyword Intervention Installation
    1. Mount the digital projector to the ceiling or wall with the included hardware so that it points towards the ground. It can be projected onto any surface.
    2. The higher you install it the larger the image will appear.
    3. Power and VGA cables can be run down the wall to a computer, or it can be hidden using acoustic tiles or other means.
    4. The computer runs a single executable file (Mac APP or Windows EXE). The computer needs wireless or ethernet internet access to connect to artist’s website (though a video version that doesn’t require an internet connection is also available)
    Space requirements for the work (illumination, isolation, size)
    The size of the projection on the floor is variable depending on the projector and its distance from the floor. A height of about 4 meters it usually covers a 3 meter in diameter area. There is no sound, and it can function in surprisingly medium illuminated spaces.
    Software instructions
    Run a small executable file on the computer. The script on the artist’s server takes care of the rest. Daily requirements:
    1.When you start the projector up it will take a little time to correct the positioning of the image. This is normal and will cease after a few minutes.
    2. At the end of the day just close the lid to the laptop. In the morning open it and tap the space bar to wake it up.
    3. Turn the projector off to conserve the bulb and energy. Using the remote, hit the power button once, then again. Wait for the bulb to cool before attempting to move or restart it.
    A cross-section of the installation showing the distribution of the various elements within the exhibition space, as well as technical factors such as electrical plugs, Internet connections and access to the space.
    Minimum computer system requirements
    Macintosh: PowerPC® G4, G5 or Intel® Processor, Mac OS X 10.3 +, 256 MB RAM Windows: Intel® Pentium® III or equivalent processor, Windows® XP +, 256 MB RAM