The Search Wall (2007)

The Search Wall is a collaborative tele-interactive art work reflecting what people are searching for on the Internet. Privacy issues almost daily make news and are a large concern for many of the Internet’s users. However, through daily usage of search engines we nevertheless willingly gradually disclose it.

Seemingly trivial, our inquiries for information on the Internet can cumulatively even over shorter periods of time lead to pretty much complete compromise of our privacy. Or in other words, by querying databases of searched for information, their proprietors have ready access to very delicate data about us. Singling out selected data, users’ habits and intentions can be revealed and users can even be located both demographically and geographically.

If only for just a few brief moments, The Search Wall captures and visualizes some of these traces we leave behind when using search engines. Contrary to the usual strong stance on archiving and preservation, The Search Wall ephemerizes users’ searches; after their subtle appearance on The Search Wall they slowly disappear, not only from the display in front of the viewer, but are also wiped out from The Search Wall itself. Its fleeting moments of exhibited words and phrases are squeezed between a blank slated history and a future that cannot be anticipated. The Search Wall thus not only lacks a memory, it represents anti-memory.

The main intention of its evanescent display of words and phrases is not the conveyance of any specific message carried or implied by its appearing and disappearing linguistic constituents. Rather, The Search Wall attempts to transform the attention and consciousness of the viewer through almost absolute extraction of those very same words and phrases from their original, initial and intended contexts.

The Search Wall gathers searches via a Firefox browser extension and sends them to the its counterpart Web site located at TheSearchWall.net, the nucleus of the work. Anyone using the Firefox browser can anonymously interact with The Search Wall by installing The Search Wall extension found at TheSearchWall.net.

Full Description

The Search Wall is a collaborative tele-interactive art work reflecting what people are searching for on the Internet. Privacy issues almost daily make news and are a large concern for many of the Internet’s users. However, through daily usage of search engines we nevertheless willingly gradually disclose it.

Seemingly trivial, our inquiries for information on the Internet can cumulatively even over shorter periods of time lead to pretty much complete compromise of our privacy. Or in other words, by querying databases of searched for information, their proprietors have ready access to very delicate data about us. Singling out selected data, users’ habits and intentions can be revealed and users can even be located both demographically and geographically.

If only for just a few brief moments, The Search Wall captures and visualizes some of these traces we leave behind when using search engines. Contrary to the usual strong stance on archiving and preservation, The Search Wall ephemerizes users’ searches; after their subtle appearance on The Search Wall they slowly disappear, not only from the display in front of the viewer, but are also wiped out from The Search Wall itself. Its fleeting moments of exhibited words and phrases are squeezed between a blank slated history and a future that cannot be anticipated. The Search Wall thus not only lacks a memory, it represents anti-memory.

The main intention of its evanescent display of words and phrases is not the conveyance of any specific message carried or implied by its appearing and disappearing linguistic constituents. Rather, The Search Wall attempts to transform the attention and consciousness of the viewer through almost absolute extraction of those very same words and phrases from their original, initial and intended contexts.

The Search Wall gathers searches via a Firefox browser extension and sends them to the its counterpart Web site located at TheSearchWall.net, the nucleus of the work. Anyone using the Firefox browser can anonymously interact with The Search Wall by installing The Search Wall extension found at TheSearchWall.net.

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