2014 | Data Retention, Levels 2, 3 and 4 Fisher Library, University of Sydney
Silicon, plaster casting, clear resin, ethernet cabling, tie wire
With the proliferation of data networks, the human mind always finds ways to ‘wire-up’ new connections between itself, objects, ideas, events and the world. I use wires and books as a form of readymade art which works as a prop for memory. Objects external to the mind can trigger memory and make connections. I am interested in this interplay between mind and the external world. When Umberto Ecco claimed in the Name of The Rose (1988): “Wanting connections, we found connections always, everywhere, and between everything” he refers to a world ‘exploding’ in a whirling network of interrelationships where everything (appears to) point to everything else, where everything explains everything else.
Gianni Wise’s installation has its menacing aspects. The title, ‘Data Retention’, might well refer to current government policies regarding the retention of metadata – the harvesting from telecommunications networks of
personal information by law enforcement agencies – ostensibly to protect the public from acts of terrorism. Indeed, the installation itself displays a number of sinister ‘packages’. Perhaps they hold data. But they also disturbingly resemble IEDs (or ‘improvised explosive devices’). The ‘connections’ Wise refers to carry the potential to penetrate deep into our personal lives, challenging privacy and potentially violating fundamental rights. In this sense, the installation reflects on the threat of data retention exposing our personal lives ‘like an open book’. Wise’s use of ambiguously wired devices may equally suggest the mind’s desire to invent ‘paranoid’ connections where there are none. USYD news