by Jon Kessler*
The Web is an immersive installation that addresses the significance of the internet and mobile devices in our lives while simultaneously examining the role of the viewer in the installation. The idea for the piece came to me on a New York subway ride when I realized that more than half of the riders were speaking on their cell phones, sending text messages, playing video games, or otherwise immersing themselves into their networked mobile devices. It was a reminder that the boundaries between inside and outside, private and public, inclusion and exclusion, are no longer physically delineated, but porous and dislocated; immaterially determined. The Web stages this experience for the viewer, acting as a surrogate for the interconnectivity of virtual space in which the dominant materials, blue yarn and electronic cables, become the material for the immaterial to flow. Viewers are invited to download a free iPhone app whereby the snapshots they take get included and archived in the installation. Much like the internet itself, The Web acts as both a sentient organism and an environmental space: it facilitates the internal circuit between viewer, camera, and monitor, while simultaneously doubling as a sprawling architectural structure. While The Web conceptually foregrounds the role of networked technologies and our dependence on them, it is in many ways a tribute to direct experience. Crucially, The Web roots the network of virtual connectivity within a physicalized environment.
A commission for Metamatic Research Initiative.
*Jon Kessler received a B.F.A. from SUNY at Purchase and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He has exhibited his work widely in Europe, Japan, and the United States. He has sculptures in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He has received several NEA grants, the St. Gaudens Memorial Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Foundation for the Performing Arts grant. Jon Kessler is a professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.