THE PUBLIC WHITE CUBE INTERVENTIONS
In November, 2008 and January, 2009, I participated in the "Public White Cube" project, a part of the "The Art of Participation" exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
For this project, I was no longer interested in "altering" the installation in the manner in which I did the first time. For my next exercise, I sought to use available technology to alter the manner in which the installation was perceived, instead of making any actual physical alterations. I called this exercise, "Mediation is Untrustworthy."
At the beginning of the negotiations for the first alteration in November, I assumed that the Public White Cube organizers were located in San Francisco. I later learned that they had returned to Germany and were communicating with the museum solely using technologies: Web cams, Web browsers, e-mail and phones. This fact, as well as my experiences with the first intervention, introduced an opportunity to take "The Art of Participation" in a new and intriguing direction.
The aforementioned situation illuminated for me the ways in which we rely upon technology (in this case, the "new" media) to access the "Truth". We rely upon and put much trust in technology in order to operate as a society. If any of the links in the chain of communications fail, the system can fail us. In "Mediation is Untrustworthy," I chose to explore how new modes of communication have opened up new avenues for obscuring the truth. Issues that presented themselves during the execution of this project include assumed identities and the anonymity of the Internet, the "surveillance society," and the power of images.
I utilized my skills as a computer graphics artist to change the space virtually. I hoped to convince the organizers to accept the virtual changes I had made and propagate those images across the Internet.
I thought of the exercise as 99% experiment and 1% prank, but if done in good will and executed successfully, I could make a powerful statement about our reliance upon technology in contemporary society and add tremendously to the exhibition.
Unlike the first intervention in November, I won the January eBay auction under an assumed name, so the organizers did not know that I was the winner of a previous bid.
I assumed the name of "Arthur Basille" (a play on the phrase, "Art Basel") and created both a new eBay account (with the username "missterryous") and a Microsoft Live account with the name, "email@example.com."
After winning the bid, I contacted the organizers under the assumed alias, while contacting the Museum staff with my intentions under my true identity. The Museum staff was kindly complicit in respecting my wishes to be the sole supplier of images to the organizers.
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In addition, I requested that the Internet Web cam by which the organizers and visitors to the Web site could view the installation in real time be turned off on the installation day and subsequently obscured for the remainder of the week. In this way, I was completely in control of the images emanating from the space a power that is wielded by governments and media organizations around the globe.
Using 3D modeling and photo-manipulation software, I created a set of doctored photos that featured a sand-colored cone in one of the installation's sand piles. The cone existed only in the photos that were sent to the project organizers in Germany, which I hoped they would include on their project blog and Web site. The installation in the coneery was left untouched, and I became curious to know if and when the organizers would be alerted to the discrepancy between the images sent to them and what was actually in the room.
At the end of the intervention time, I planned to reveal the nature of the project. The process and results however they resolve are to be documented on this site.
The organizers were notified of the project on Tuesday, January 13th. Their thoughts can be viewed in the post entitled, "Tim Roseborough aka Arthur Basille" at http://www.publicwhitecube.com.
© Tim Roseborough 2010 All Rights Reserved.