Sunday, 20 January 2013

Listening Post, Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, The Natural Science Museum

Greatly suggested Listening Post is an electronic art installation, collecting and sharing a live, uncensored stream of fragmented text, shown in real-time to the curious, and arguably invasive public. Words and phrases from public internet chat-rooms, bulletin boards and other online public forums are filtered and ordered to movements in a symphony, displayed on tiny text screens in patterns and waves. Speakers placed around the room play different fragments of conversations at different moments as though a live stream of information is travelling around an individual's existence. This piece is an extraordinary snapshot of the internet as never experienced before and gives a fantastic incite into the millions of identities expressed online. As more and more voices start to talk, and text becomes more and more disjointed, almost transformed into white noise, this hypnotic piece could have you sitting there for hours watching and listening intently.

'Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chat-rooms and bulletin boards. Artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin have divided their work into seven separate ‘scenes’ akin to movements in a symphony. Each scene has its own ‘internal logic’, sifting, filtering and ordering the text fragments in different ways.
Listening Post is an extraordinary investigation into the character of online communication and the meaning and malleability of statistics. It is a recognised masterpiece of electronic and contemporary art, but Hansen and Rubin’s use of media technologies and sophisticated data analysis techniques differentiates it from traditional visual art. It relies not only on materials and the built environment, but also on text data quoted from the thousands of unwitting contributors’ postings.
As Listening Post carries out its eavesdropping cycles and displays its findings to us, it implicates us in its voyeuristic activities. But we also experience a great sense of the humanity behind the data. Hansen and Rubin have almost created a modern-day oracle, a snapshot of the internet as we know it today and a monument to the ways we find t connect with each other and express our identities online.' (Hannah Redler, Head of Museum Arts Projects)

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