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Curvilinear Narratives

By Rhizome

British artists Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead (collaborating under the name Thomson & Craighead) are internet art pioneers whose practice often extends beyond the internet to manifest network conditions in physical space. Their Decorative Newsfeeds (2006) project is an example of such an initiative. In both the gallery and outdoor versions of the work, a live news feed is visualized in curly-cue text strings that keep viewers informed of up-to-the-minute headlines. At a time in which statisticians often site the public's limited attention span for both visual art and the news, the project is a nice pairing of the two. Thomson & Craighead compare the animations to readymades or automatic drawings, but one might also see in them a poetic statement about the fabrication of social reality in the media. In gallery versions, the feeds are projected onto both sides of a screen, making the viewing experience more immersive while invoking the notion of a two-sided story. In outdoor contexts, three colorful tracks of text whirl along a trajectory programmed into bright LED boards, sending the classic town square news ticker into a spin. Decorative Newsfeeds have been installed in London and Cambridge, and video documentation can be found online. - Marisa Olson

Image: Thomson & Craighead, Decorative Newsfeeds, 2006

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