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Looking for Ourselves Beyond the Little Blue Screens that Bind Us

It is a utopian desire of philosophic ambition realized, where the very nature of all existence and thought is condensed into the palm of one’s hand. Information that was once impossible for a single being to possess, lies waiting in a tiny slab of glass for all to see in apparent unconditionality. There lies the […]

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It is a utopian desire of philosophic ambition realized, where the very nature of all existence and thought is condensed into the palm of one’s hand. Information that was once impossible for a single being to possess, lies waiting in a tiny slab of glass for all to see in apparent unconditionality. There lies the paradox; our tragedies are of our own creation as we cast aside the boundless possibilities afforded by this momentous invention in favor of mere stimulation. Colors flashing sixty times a second are good enough for us to disregard our reality itself in favor of a manufactured one. A reality powered by Google and Facebook. These contemplations lie at the very root of my sculpture, Little Blue Screen. It is a globe, one made entirely out of logos of the companies that approximate us along virtual coordinates, attempting to define us constantly, as we agree to clauses that make commodities of us all. What of the social contracts of the real world? Our contract with ourselves and with those around us. Do we owe them nothing more than our presence on their personal bricks of reality that they carry in their pockets and purses?

Little Blue Screen casting its deep shadows on the world around it.

The digital self, is a fractured one. We’re simultaneously different people on the many different online platforms that we frequent, enslaved to our ever-shortening attention spans. To think a puny device that resides on our palms would dictate our every decision and our very interaction with the world is a most hilarious yet woeful predicament. The question is, do we let it define us? Our very creation gives us access to infinite information, opens up a world, so to speak, yet lacks the simple knowledge that is inherent within humanity.

Artist Sonal Ambani peering through Little Blue Screen with a visitor.

We find ourselves living in a moment where we cannot seem to disengage with these extensions of our personalities that define us and gives us liberation and yet holds us captive.

It binds us from seeing the world that is around us through our own eyes, as we vicariously experience it and participate in a society contingent solely on what was supposed to be a technological marvel of great liberation. Information needs to be concise, interaction has to be pithy and eloquent, we put our best selves online for the world to see, but how often is this best self-manifested in the real world? How often do we stop and reflect on what that best self truly is? I wanted to create not just a sculpture, but a reminder that a world exists beyond these slabs of glass. Around the installment are brass plates etched with actual contracts interspersed with humor. The plates are placed precisely in a way that they would be ignored, much like we ignore the end user license agreements while installing apps. A tablet is placed inside the globe of brands that plays a 25 second loop.

An aerial view of the installation encompassed by the terms of agreement

As you look through the “oo” of Google and Facebook aligned on either side of the globe, the tablet inside displays a message,

Stop

Take a breath

Experience

Look across

This Little Blue Screen, does it define you, or do you define it?

Looking through the globe at another person, and not down at a screen reminds us that the device that connects us all somehow seems to disconnect us from our true selves. It is only fitting that the screen that binds us, should remind us of who we are and make us reflect on the simple things that make us human.

Sonal Ambani telling the story of her work to a visitor

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