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Addressing Information Overload in Art

The next AoIR 2015 speaker is Stacey May Koosel, whose interest is in the temporalities of digital culture. She worked with articles to explore the concept of tl;dr (too long; didn't read) – in relation to our consciousness of time. Tl;dr is related to information overload, and emerged in 2003; it may point to decreasing attention spans, and show how we are overwhelmed by the information deluge we are now faced with. We negotiate it by employing pattern recognition.

One artist, for example – a compulsive hoarder – used his collection in his art, showing the volume of this material as an overwhelming amount of information; another logged all aspects of his life and presented this in the exhibition. Yet another, a graffiti artist, drew pictures from his smartphone on the gallery windows.

Other artists dealt with the idea of information as noise, creating surrealist books full of unreadable or glitchy content, or exhibited major philosophical texts that most people will never read. Some invaded exhibition visitors' spaces by broadcasting the amplified and echoed sounds of their smartphone email or SMS notifications; others used hologram effects to show how difficult it is to clean out and control our personal digital spaces and traces.

Another group bicycled around the Estonian neighbourhood to record available wifi networks, and created a kind of phonebook of local wifi networks: the WiFipedia. When they did this in Korea, it also showed political wifi SSID names, incidentally.

This highlights the contemporary information overload and its effects, and our approaches to coping with it.