Vivisecting the Internet with Brooklyn Artist Zach Gage
Contemporary wisdom may have it that the internet has rapidly sped up and, in a way, dehumanized the world we once knew. Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Zach Gage wants us to rethink that widely disseminated notion.
Gage, whose art primarily centers on game design, social media, and programming, often dissects the connection between digitized social interactions and systems. Along the way, he twists our love–hate relationship with modern technologies, the internet in particular.
“Glaciers,” an exhibition of Gage’s work currently on view at Postmasters Gallery in Brooklyn, reframes the ways we think about the web as a hyper-fast, inhuman technological force. The show, which feeds into Gage’s ongoing human-query series, consists of a series of e-ink screens affixed to evenly spaced, wall-mounted wooden blocks. The uniformity of identical screens gives way to distinct messages displayed on each.
Their content is sourced from bits of information gleaned from real-time, autopopulated Google queries. Each screen contains three unrelated phrases, each on its own line, derived from three autocompleted suggestions for a specific Google search—e.g., “i want to…,” “should i save my….”
The result is something like a haiku meeting automatic poetry as found in a fortune cookie. The query “why,” for instance, yielded: “why is the sky blue / why you always lying / why restaurant automation is on the menu.” And the query “i’m scared of” produced: “i’m scared of losing you / i’m scared of toasters / i’m scared of death.”
The mystifying, unexpected results change any given day—if not hour—so the screens are updated once a day. This large installation is joined by two additional, Twitter-based works previously created by Gage: an LED scroll piece Best Day Ever (2009) and the #Fortune (2014–15) machine. The former scrolls through phrases containing the expression “best day ever” as found in random tweets. The latter offers a transcript of select tweet-based fortunes.
Together, the three works reveal Gage’s preoccupation with generative art as he breaks down the internet’s light-speed frenzy into digestible, Zen-like moments lost in the fray.