• EarthLab

So Smart?

Updated: May 7, 2019

This proposal submitted for land art exhibition: Art Safiental 2020....

Digital technologies are a human obsession that can both enhance & extend, as well as destroy life. Today’s choices will shape the lives of future generations. The installation will provoke visitors to reflect on this proliferation in a broader ethical, aesthetic, environmental & social context.

Playing on 21st century term 'smart phones', the art work challenges its visitors to answer the question, are we really so smart? It takes a nuanced view of the 'ups and downs' of digital technology. Can we cheat death & live forever? control our technology in the future? safeguard our democracies? enjoy both freedom of speech & freedom from discrimination? avoid environmental catastrophe?

Just like digital signals, the artwork interplays binaries to toy with moral & value judgments about digital – e.g. circular V linear economies; local V global; satisfaction V desire; social V social media; people V profit, nature's intuition V artificial intelligence.

The installation - In total the artwork will cover a 50mx50m area. Shallow trench (approx. 30 cm deep x 100 cm wide) will be dug out in the shape of a Sine Wave. Inside the trench will lie a selection of E-waste collected in local Swiss cities – mostly used and non-functioning computer and TV screens. Approx. 1400 screens will be used.

Aesthetics - From the sky, the e-waste pathway will be a majestic sine wave. Reflecting the shape and energies of the surrounding mountains, it looks very appealing, beautiful and benevolent. From a distance, as observers approach the installation, the “abandoned” screens appear as an unusual rock formation. It is built into a landscape with contrasting colors, e.g. a meadow, snow field. The installation appears like an integral part of the natural environment. However, the distinctly artificial nature of its wave shape alerts the observer to the fact that all is not as it seems. Arriving at the installation, on close inspection, the radical juxtaposition between the human-made e-waste-land & the beauty of the valley environment becomes apparent.

The social experience - The wave will be accompanied by a ‘reflection trail' for the public to follow & explore the binary nature of digital.

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