This piece was inspired partly by Douglas Coupland’s book ‘Microserfs’. The book centres on Microsoft programmers who are searching for meaning in their lives. The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a Powerbook (Macintosh Powerbook) by the narrator, Daniel. My piece isn't concerned with creating meaning in my life, or in anyone’s life, but is, in contrast, concerned with removing meaning from it. The binary that hangs from the wall has meaning, but only to me.
Between the 25 October and the 25th November, I wrote and maintained a journal on my Macbook Pro. The Journal outlined all the things I did on a day-to-day basis: all the thoughts I was having; all the conversations I remembered; all the opinions I felt were important. I intended for the journal never to be fully translated, but simply to hang from the wall and remain hidden in this code. All my opinions of the people that surrounded me, all my secrets were contained (and still are contained) in this mesh of 0s and 1s. The journal is ultimately exploring how the complexity of our lives–how all the people we meet; all the experience we have, are not digital. The way we relive these moments is now completely digital. Memories are now contained in photos, videos, emails, texts, Facebook messages, tweets, likes etc on our computers, phones and tablets, as opposed to in our minds, or on paper, or on physical things. All our memories have become zeros and ones. Our world has become code. Nothing is physical. There is a sort of irony with this piece. It is a physical thing, depicting a digital thing. A touchable object depicting something completely untouchable.
Once again, like my previous pieces, this piece only becomes meaningful with audience interaction. The binary remains uncoded and useless on the wall until someone attempts to decode it using the table provided. By attempting to read into my life, by decoding these numbers, people create meaning, not only to my life, but to the data. The data becomes useful (to some extent). There is a desire to find out about my life, but that is only evident by how desperate the audience is to discover what I’ve written about.
This act of translation raised a significant question. What is more important about the piece: what is being translated or the act of translating? Is the piece trying to say something through what is actually written, or through trying to decipher what has been written? The answer is neither. The act of translating/what is being translated is not important. The piece is more concerned with how our experiences are now entirely digital, how our lives have no meaning in this world of code. What is being translated is my life. My life has no interest to anyone but myself. Some people may be interested in my feelings and opinions, but will eventually forget what has been written. By translating, they are engaging in trying to find out more about me, providing some meaning to the piece and to my life. But the piece is not looking to address the translation of the binary, it is looking to address this world of code that surrounds us; this world that we are so oblivious to. If this world were to go offline, if we were to lose everything, we would have nothing to show for it. All the things we thought were important would be lost. All our Facebook ‘friends’, our status updates, all our videos and photos would be gone. We would lose our identities. Yet, this piece proposes this very question with all of this information present: can we be human in this age of technology? Do we have an identity? How are we human?
Again, similarities can be drawn with my previous pieces. This journal is similar to the questionnaire in that it addresses peoples’ lives. The experiences of people are turned into data that ultimately gets lost in the world. Yet, in contrast with the questionnaire and the information wall, this piece is not as politically motivated. It is not centred so much on politics, and more on the personal. It is clearly connected to the other two pieces in its depiction of data, however.
My initial idea for this piece involved having the binary code printed on fax paper. This paper would then roll down the wall, showing an endless cycle of code. My printer, however, had problems printing using the fax paper. The attempts were hung up, almost as though they were pieces of a puzzle, showing that they were of no use to anyone, they were useless. The fact that they are crumpled and ripped suggests this idea of meaninglessness. As a result, I had to print the journal binary on 118 pages of A4 and place them on my studio desk. This does not give the same affect, but still gets the central notions across.