WSA Research Anthology Project 2008

possible photo backdrops

possible photo backdrops

‘It’s not about me, it’s about you’ 1]

WSA Research Anthology Project 2008

A response to Caroline Bassett’s essay To Compute the Meaning of Words: the Digital Economy, and David Owen’s Global Threats to Security, by Walter van Rijn.

David Owen’s analysis and rather optimistic assertion that “we need … to move to a form of global politics … effective, powerful global institutions of government that have the authority to impose” measures on a global scale, is in effect what we already have and comes down to do more of the same. Is the underlying problem not the widening gap between the global payers and personal lives? Governments not acting in the interest of people but following their own agenda?

Caroline Bassett mentions the development of the ‘Giant Global Grid’ or the semantic web, which means more knowledge in the network. But how will it be used?  The gatekeepers of the internet might widen the distance between the personal and the general through initiating actions nobody is accountable for. At the same time we have never been more (dis)connected as we live in a digital, network society.
Bassett demands “Forms of thinking about the future based on principles of making visible” and “a new negotiation”. Owen points to the role of “the artist as cosmopolitan actor or global citizen”.

I would like to respond to these notions by investigating the friction between the personal and global through the medium of an exhibited installation. How can I through my artist’s practice respond to, and create knowledge about ‘making public’ and interaction between global issues, global institutions and personal experience? What if an exhibition becomes a place for enactment and experimentation, by artist as well as audience, of different roles one normally only experiences mediated through the media i.e. TV, newspapers, internet. What if the public is given the opportunity to play a role on a global stage, address all of us, with a backdrop fit for the international media.

See the photo montage for examples of backdrops that might serve as a starting point.

Exhibition set-up: example of ‘the presidential press conference’ a photo on the wall (enlarged to live size ) and in front of it a cutout without the head, so that people can stand behind it and become the president who is giving a press conference. The cut out need to be glued on wood, and made like a lectern. The set up would also include one or more photographers, videocamera and mic, lights, and a monitor so the ‘president’ can see him or herself. A full exhibition would include several of these photo backdrops with different roles to play.

1] Obama, B. (2008). “The American Promise.”   Retrieved 2008-11-20, from



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