Left to Your Own Devices, 2014

Installation at Two Shelves, October 14th, 2014

Installation at Two Shelves, October 14th, 2014

A Participatory Digital Installation created for Two Shelves

Two Shelves is an apartment gallery which promotes site-specific installation. Rather than ask artists to simply show their usual work on a shelf, the aptly-titled project’s founders hope the intimate and minimal space is used as a springboard for new ideas. When invited to exhibit, my recent projects had all been digital, online exhibitions, and I knew that I wanted that work to carry over into this physical space.

After some time considering projections against a wall-piece, I decided I didn’t want anything tangible. I wanted a screen on the wall, or possibly multiple small screens, and after the sobering realization that I couldn’t afford a batch of tablets came the epiphany: nearly every visitor to the show would have a screen with them. I would simply request that the visitor load the project in some fashion and participate, contributing to the whole. This simple premise eventually led to Relinquish.Me, the piece which, iterated into a multitude of variables, generates the installation. Hence: Left to Your Own Devices.

To the exhibition space, I brought nothing physical: there was no install, and there was no wall text. Visitors were verbally prompted to enter the url into their mobile device, select a screen orientation, then participate by placing the device anywhere on a shelf. On screen, a video looped—a set of clips, selected randomly from several hours of video screen captures, documentations of operating system performances, created for the exhibition.

Here, for example, are several devices running a few sets of clips…

Live demo: devices on two shelves

The installation grew and contracted as the crowd did. It was remarkable to see the room of people stripped of their phones and the usual engagement that goes with them. Nearly everybody faced the wall of screens, like in a theater, and conversations flowed. At first, along with project founders Joe Rudko and Kelly Björk, I personally instructed people; in time, the visitors shared the premise of the show among one another. As Joe quipped, the url went viral.

Create your own unique installation!

Create your own unique installation!

My favorite part of this piece is that an iteration of it can be created anywhere, anytime. It is ready for you online. Simply load Relinquish.Me into any number of mobile browsers, choose your screen orientation, and place the devices together for your own unique, never-the-same-twice, digital installation.

Further reading: Interview with Greg Lundgren for ‘Between the Shelves’

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