Interface Apathy, 2013
Interface Apathy détournes the 'long zoom' (1) in order to map out the contemporary condition of hypermediation and its associated anxieties. The seamlessly looping video functions as a parable, showing that when extracted from its normative structural context, the interface becomes stuck in a recursive infinite loop. In this state, it develops a self-similar system of relativity comparable to, but much more redundant than that of the atom–organism–galaxy.
Although wholly anthropocentric in its design, the interface paradoxically ends up seeming uncanny and alien following the process of being permuted across divergent physical contexts. Here, the process of 'permutation' (2) is simply one way to parameterize how the interface's identity fluxes and stabilizes over time, as it morphs from vehicle to algorithm to mere surface property and back again.
Crucially, the constant drone of the beta frequency binaural beat (3) alternatively belies or supports these visual & semantic dynamics. For instance, when the binaural beat fails to meet its operational definition (i.e. promoting mental states associated with cognition and focus), it instead bursts the immersive bubble of spectatorship. One must then face the inescapable fact that reality is always already interfaced and mediated machinically by the human organism. The slippage between the computational and organismic here is too absurd — too untenable for any rationalization. Conversely, when the beat succeeds at maintaining the immersive experience, it performatively structures and deepens one's immersive experience, whilst also functioning via erasure, hiding the mechanisms behind this selfsame illusion.
If a profound metanoia characterizes the 'Overview Effect' (4) experienced by astronauts after years in outer space, then conversely a strong apathy characterizes the chronic state of hypermediation that is culturally dominant. The proliferation and convolution of the interface plays a key role here. Hence, one job that artists must fill now more than ever is that of visualization. Namely, to mentally accelerate and then visualize the latent potentialities of insidious socio-technological trends.
(1) The TV & film trope of the 'long zoom' describes a mechanically-impossible zoom-out from the atomic to the planetary scale. This trope suggests enlightenment and acceleration through post-human disembodiment. Furthermore, it causes its audience to experience the sublime, albeit artificially.
(2) The field of Combinatorics defines 'permutation' as an ordered combination, insofar as the precise order of elements in the configuration is significant.
(3) Note: the audio is binaural, so the use of headphones is required to elicit the designed effect.
(4) The Overview Effect: "a phrase coined in the book of the same name by space philosopher and writer Frank White. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere." - The Overview Institute [source: http://www.overviewinstitute.org/about-us/declaration-of-vision-and-principles]