..What thoughts are evoked by Find The User...
By Cecilia Farias Calderon
If there is something certain about the ways in which people commute around London -in whichever sense one might take the word (travel, transform, interact)-, is that there is a perceptible urge for being "connected" or "present" at all times. People clutch their phones and entertainment portable devices on their way to school, work or meeting friends; whether it is on the Tube station, on the streets or at franchise coffee shops. What is it so urgent that people need to communicate? Why does daily hours seem to pass staring at screens that, when the battery is over, reflect us in our natural way?
As city people we are expected to engage in activities that create human bonds, there is a lot of publicity that speak to us, visually, in the hope to catch our attention and keep that chain of desire and consumption going on. The so-called smart phones do their best to answer all our city doubts and beyond, they show us where we are, where do we want to go, what do we want to buy; they are quickly and undoubtedly substituting human interaction at certain levels.
In a city permeated by these issues, one might be too busy to look at differences appearing at the streets we pass by everyday staring at our gadgets, that while are supposed to keep us connected, at times makes me wonder to what, really? Are we really communicating? Is copying the style of CCTV that is always watching over us in our daily actions, by giving to others an account of every single thing that we do during the day really what communication was about some 10 years ago?
Internet has given an immense platform for anonymous users to wander. The people that we pass by without knowing in the streets might constitute the huge network of users that, clutching to their gadgets, ask questions, hear and comment music, shop in forums, watch porn or family films and many other things. The project "Find the User" has cached my attention for it speak to us in a more subtle yet powerful way: it brings a material, tangible sculpture to famous London locations to represent the Users we all are. Internet is wide enough as to never be able to meet or know the real identities of the persons we interact with. The representation of these figures in "Find the User" is an example of traces left around the city that are anonymous but take no more than one space on a light post to be seen. The questions that rise when encountering art projects as this one are mostly about the reception that the sculptures have, being located in symbolic places in which hundreds of tourists and londoners pass by everyday.
Do people identify themselves as they see the Users? What do they think this is about? What has made some people take down some of the sculptures?
A work that is not aggressive towards the people (it does not damage any public or private property) and that will hopefully make others reflect on the ways that we are communicating nowadays, is a remarkable example that some artists have already taken notice about what is happening with us and decided to do something about it. Something that speak back to us more meaningfully than all the publicity and gadgets, that is.
Cecilia Farias Calderon