This is quite a long blog post, just because there are so many projects by Craig and Thomson that relate closely to my work. Discussing their work, they talk about their interest in “the cracks between things” and looking “at systems and architectures that surround us in the world, and trying to work out how they control us, or how they perhaps kind of inform society is generated or how cultures are built… how those sorts of structures that are hidden from us even in plain sight inform what we mean and how we behave”. I have similar concerns, and am interested in the way that our technologies frame (or more, fracture) our thinking.
More Songs of Innocence
I’ve already written about this work in a previous blog post, but wanted to flag it up again as a notable piece, and one that introduced me to the duo’s work. This piece was also partly influential in my decision to engage with song lyrics as a way of exploring the mundane information encountered on the internet.
Google Tea Towels, dot-store.com
This piece engages internet ‘aesthetics’ and tools and transforms them into products for sale. I am particularly interested in their ‘google tea towels’ which are tea towels with search results from google printed on them. The results are found from searching ‘please help me’, ‘can you hear me’, ‘please listen to me’, and ‘is anybody there?’. The work seems to be a quite playful, yet poignant reflection on the way that such a strong human need to find some sort of sense of self or meaning is flippantly addressed through our superficial interactions with material on the internet – especially material that maybe exploits this insecurity and undermines it.
This video installation piece makes use of a way of working that Craig and Thomson call ‘desktop documentaries’, documentary style videos that are made without leaving the space of the web. This particular piece collages together found footage of people discussing beliefs, the footage is organised geographically, journeying through locations on online maps.
This piece highlights to me that there is not always a need for the artist to have a direct presence in the work, or that there is a need to create ‘new’ input or footage. The piece works as the artist’s act as directors and agencies that bring together a series of voices that alongside one another are transformed into a much larger narrative that the original contributors themselves are unaware of.
In this piece, tweets are taken from within a three-mile geographical radius and presented as typeset posters that offer a physical and ‘poetic’ snapshot of social media activity. Again with this work, I am interested in the isolation of this material from their original, specific, and personal contexts and its recasting as a series of aesthetic and quite physical, present objects. This demonstrates the power of presentation and context in the way that we read and relate to information.
The First Person
In this final piece that I’m addressing in this post, fragments of text from self-help sites from the internet are interrupted by found footage of a burning house. I am quite interested in this juxtapositioning of information, but think that it is an interesting reflection once more on the flippancy and mundanity of material found on the internet, in particular, I think there is a sense in which things that reflect a real depth of reflection or a significant event are drowned out amongst a mass of information of which they are only a fragment. For example the reality of the burning building, or the exploration of meaning/life dealt with in self-help sites, is undermined by the quick movement and engagement that viewers or users perhaps have with the content. It is only when the content is isolated from the familiar framework of a web page that this idea can be fully understood and realised.