Internal Server Error (2013)

"Internal Server Error" is an intensive survey of the artist's personal web usage depicted in two parts. In "A Short History of a Browser", Fenton hand-drafted her daily web history every night for the month of April. For "Offline", she compiled dictionaries, encyclopedias, phone books, user manuals, notebooks, old letters, junk mail, maps, mixed tapes, manuals, photos, take out menus, paper bills, and post-it notes to create a tactile version of her internet usage and to pay homage to paper and all things analogue.

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Artist Statement

I bought my first computer - an orange I Mac - in 1999 after deciding I needed one to finish college. All papers for my first few years of college were meticulously typed on a thrift store Olivetti despite my professors' disapproval. I wasn't anti-technology per se, I just didn't feel like I needed to have a computer in my life. I had an email address that my boyfriend at the time set up for me so I could keep in touch with people during our travels. For the first couple of years I checked my email maybe once a week. I wasn't part of the cell phone revolution until later than most people, and only succumbed after I was required to get one for work. And so it began. The incessant checking of email and flurry of text and email messages from crazed bosses, friends, lovers, family and strangers I'd found on the internet. I became fascinated by the web (and still am). It became a tool for my practice (and still is) and scratched my itching curiosity about the world and all its foibles (and still does). My connectedness to people and a wealth of information on the internet grew and grew and grew and keeps growing today.

I met my husband through the internet. So technically, my daughter is a child of the internet. A majority of my jobs have been discovered through the internet. Most of the homes I've lived in as an adult have been found through the internet as well as all of the roommates I've lived with. The web is convenient, probably one of the most convenient tools out there. I can Skype with friends and family around the world, find an answer to a simple question in a matter of seconds, share information, read articles that may have never been published and watch videos of creatures doing things I probably shouldn't discuss here. There have been revolutionary moments on Facebook for social and political causes. I have connected and reconnected with fantastic people because of social media. Despite all of this, there is a heavy undertone of emptiness and disconnectedness in my particular web experience because of the way I've been using it.

Internal Server Error is an intensive survey of my personal web usage. In A Short History of a Browser, I hand-drafted my daily web history every night for the month of April. For this project I wanted to absorb what I was perusing on a daily basis and writing down each place I'd meandered to online somehow connected me back to those moments I would have otherwise forgotten. This experiment also gave me an opportunity to practice writing by hand, something I used to do much more frequently.

For Offline, I compiled dictionaries, encyclopedias, phone books, notebooks, user manuals, old letters, junk mail, maps, mixed tapes, manuals, take out menus, photos, paper bills, and post-it notes to create a tactile version of my internet usage. This piece is very much a homage to paper and all things analogue.

A plethora of questions came up for me in this process: How have I changed since I started using the web? How has my communication with others shifted? How has my body adapted to sitting for long periods of time or looking down at a cell phone screen? How am I retaining information that I read on the web as opposed to reading printed matter? How much time am I spending on the web and what am I looking at? What sites do I visit more frequently and why am I drawn to visiting them? What is it that draws me to Facebook and other forms of social media? Is it curiosity or ego? Most importantly I ask myself, how I can use the internet more mindfully?

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