Can You Feel Me Now?


Mobile communication technologies like cell phones and wireless broadband internet access hold out the promise of an always 'on' society. Coupled with the accessibility of information archives and instant data retrieval, these technologies are realizing the dream, or nightmare, of ubiquitous computing. Yet, with all this newly available information, are we really forming more meaningful connections with the world around us? Paris-based net artist Christophe Bruno's improbable WIFI-SM project responds to such a question with a darkly rhetorical humor. Through the application of a small wifi-enabled device to the skin, like an internet nicotine patch, users will be delivered an electric shock whenever a real-time scan of news sources reveals specific keywords related to violence, such as 'war' or 'death.' WIFI-SM is exhibited in a new solo show of Bruno's work, which opened 10 January at Galerie Sollertis in Toulouse, France. Along with other internet-based works by the artist, the opening featured a live performance of 'Human Browser,' a physically embodied and culturally contextualized text-to-speech translation of Google searches. If you want not only to know the pain of others but to also feel it, you should check it out. - Ryan Griffis