The Artist is staged : “I am Googable”, therefore, I am

There was a time in the early 2000s when wireless Internet hubs in public spaces became popular within the computer sub-cultures, arguably spawning future Anons when the aspiration was not to be ‘Googable’ but to be mercurial and faceless. In many cases, you only become aware of the name of the actual real life person and their one or many IRC ./nicks (online pseudonyms), only after a long time, or perhaps never at all. Presenting your ‘online self’ as shape shifting and mysteriously magical was often the aim.

The classical scene of an artist sitting or standing in his studio in front of an easel and an empty canvas used to be (and maybe still is) a valuable subject for an artwork, that scene which managed to sustain a certain position and value in art history and market. The “The Artist is staged” was investigating how artists recently conceive that scene and the power of artistic subjectivity by staging themselves as a subject for their projects in many different strategies, and unfolding questions related to the current self conception of artists.

Image detail – “I am Googable”, therefore, “I am” (2009-11) Medium: Former live feed, Networked installation, colour, silent, data feed embedded in a website on my server, networked computer monitor, along with a 349mmx 6000 mm semi-gloss colour print on banner paper.

“The Artist is staged” was a group exhibition at Galleri KiT showing works by: Ørjan Amundsen, Anne-Karin Furunes, Hassan Khan, Nancy Mauro-Flude, Jon Arne Mogstad, Regina Maria Möller, Hilde Pytkowski, Greger Stolt Nilsen, Kamilla Skrinde. Curated by Mahmoud Khaled who was very recently shortlisted  for the 2016 Abraaj Group Art Prize.

I was invited to contribute an the artwork – “I am Googable”, therefore, I am (2009-11) because it gestures towards this colossal effort of trying to find out more about ourselves through external means. The artwork consists of an output of accumulated results of a ‘Google search’ which prints out the artists name and how many ‘hits’ the name attracts onto an HTML page. This information was scripted to automate a add a new line and programmed to cycle through a limited array of colour each day.

I wanted to emphasise that if we approach the search engine Google as if it is a wise oracle of objectivity, it will give us a false impression – an illusion, like a rainbow that recedes from view the more you try to approach; you can never pinpoint it. The rainbow-like hues are seated in a black abyss, which daily updates a status count on the screen and on the print. Both are positioned as this infinite hope that a rainbow inspires. This is a speculative work as ‘Googling’ brings many different results that depend on many variables. For instance, a name may bring different numbers of ‘hits’ for a person who may be more or less popular in particular countries, mirroring servers throughout different time zones that read out variable numbers of results, also dependent on your computer’s search history. Google searches differentiate between paid and unpaid results. In fact, I came to appreciate that: the more the results are capricious, the better. The objective of the work is that the ‘hits’ act as a metaphor to tell the artist that she, in fact, does exist. This in turn serves to make a statement about one’s sense of self, their interiority, or the increasing lack of it, in an age where the ability to exist in seclusion or isolation is vanishing.