To answer life’s big questions, we increasingly turn to the Internet hive mind. Twitter, Facebook, reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers and countless other forums allow users to crowdsource real-time responses to queries on any subject, from what to name a baby to how to organize a funeral. Enquire Within Upon Everybody explores the limits of these powerful new tools of human enquiry.
Audiences in Sydney and Darwin were invited to tweet questions on any subject to #enquiresydney or #enquiredarwin and see them answered by the global data stream. The Q&A session unfolded in real time on public screens in both two cities, reflecting the hopes and anxieties of each urban centre and the distinctive, emergent personality of social data itself.
The work incites timely questions about problem-solving in the digital age, the un/reliability of social data and the im/possibility of uniqueness in networked environments, where almost everything we want to say is already being said by someone else. It’s part of an ongoing series of collaborations between myself and hybrid media artist Andrew Burrell which explore the poetics of search: the creative possibilities of filtering and recombining online data through search engine queries.
Enquire Within Upon Everybody ran from 8-16 June 2013 at The Concourse, Chatswood in Sydney and Nan Giese Gallery, Darwin, and later at The Chan Contemporary Artspace, Darwin. It was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts Broadband Arts Initiative.
Read my blog on the portals over at the Australia Council’s website.