Thomson & Craighead
Beacon, 2005Data Projection and Live Stream www.automatedbeacon.net
Beacon, a work by the British artist pair Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead, uses software that continuously queries multiple search engines in the World Wide Web—from Altavista to Google and Yahoo—and then projects the search terms found there at regular intervals in the exhibition space. The result is a selection of real‐time searches, just as they are performed millions of times each day on the Internet. The search terms, entered by unknown Internet users, are concretized into a form of poetry on the museum wall. It is impossible to predict which terms will be selected. There is nothing that cannot be found in the Net and, accordingly, there is also nothing that is not sought there. Product research is therefore just as likely to show up in the projection as is current news or the search for pornographic material. Beacon reflects the network behavior of Internet users around the world and thus becomes a silent witness to an online stream of consciousness—a feedback loop that provides us with a global snapshot of ourselves in real time.
In addition to being presented as a data projection in the exhibition, the work is also accessible online under www.automatedbeacon.net.
Exhibition view, On and Off, Bryce Wolkonitz, New York, 2006