Sous la surface (under the surface)

 

ELEKTRA gallery, Complexe de Gaspé, Montréal

Presented from March 02 to April 06 2019

 

Centre d'exposition Léo-Ayotte, Culture Shawinigan.

1er Juin au 16 Septembre 2018 avec Kevin Dubeau

SOUS LA SURFACE is an interactive installation integrating notions of web art, programming and electronics at the crossroads of art and technology. This project explores the relationship between the incessant virtual activity online in correlation with the physical presence of users at its origin. 

We are recently witnessing the almost systematic spilling of the sum of knowledge and human experience online. A collective digitalization; which clearly tends to become in itself a second layer of juxtaposed virtual reality that is just as legitimate. A place where experiences and knowledge can flourish digitally and then, in turn, influence the real world.

 

In this context, probably one of the most relevant examples is the universal online encyclopedia project Wikipedia. This free, multilingual and license-free site allows users from anywhere in the world to view, edit, download and use content freely. Literally a collective encyclopedia in perpetual change, Wikipedia now has several million active members and is considered one of the most consulted reference works in the world. This site represents the opportunity to collaborate to the collective knowledge under a platform managed by users for users.

 

It is through digital platforms like this one that human experience is now lived almost inseparably on two levels: the real world and the digital or virtual world. Knowledge and communications are decentralized, borderless and deploy in a community movement.

 

Nowadays, some experiences can be lived completely online, and subsequently, affect our real world. Conversely, the experiences and discoveries we make in the physical world, once digitized will in turn influence users' experience on the internet.

 

It is at the junction of this feedback loop that SOUS LA SURFACE takes place.

Here, the viewer witnesses a physical representation of the virtual online activity: each "click" corresponds to an active user on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Together, they generate a "rain" of data on the other side of the screen.

 

Conversely, the physical presence in the installation as an observer directly influences the network in real time: each viewer is assigned a web identifier that leaves a trace on the Internet and generates a "click" corresponding to his visit.

This project explores the relationship between the incessant digital signal and the physical presence of the original users.

 

"In physics a surface is what marks the boundary between the inside and outside of an object, or the boundary between two phases, or even the boundary of an arbitrary partition of space." The surface here denotes not only the physical screen understood as such but also on the other hand, the functions, systems and users being below and beyond the screen.

 

We intend here that the surface of the screen of a computer represents as much the frontier as the bridge between two corresponding worlds.

 

A poetry is thus established between the fact of observing the flow of human activity online transposed to the physical world in the form of rain of clicks, and the fact that one' s own presence as a physical observer echoes in this transposed virtual world.

Virtual part of the installation : www.souslasurface.net

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Online users editing Wikipedia generating the "rain" : 

 

WHITE  

 

Online visitors specifically on ''souslasurface.net'' : 

YELLOW  

Physical visitors in the installation ''Sous la surface'' : 

BLUE  

 

Demonstration of souslasurface.net  presented on site:

Webp.net-gifmaker (5).gif

Demonstration of the software managing the data between Wikipedia and the installation:

Creation of DMX to VGA signal generators:

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