It is a common assumption that, in using the Internet, one is taking advantage of a newfound freedom; to peruse vast streams of data, to engage in exchanges of conversation and information, to contribute (and therefore add one’s own) subjectivity into an ever-expanding field of disparate perspectives. The user is able to manoeuvre at will, at high-speed, and re-direct course in the instant of a thought. Throughout this process, however, there is always the possibility of return, to stable spaces and familiar formats, launching points for subsequent ventures. One is granted immediate, unrestrained access to anything, everything, whenever.
This kind of idealised language is, of course, true and false at the same time. The capacity of the internet to provide contact with an unprecedented wealth of information tends to obscure the hidden trajectories and hierarchies that are built into the system. Limitless movement does have its limits; sign-posts and roadblocks are often overlooked in the relentless rush onwards. Furthermore, one could suggest that the independence of the user is being gradually hedged in, narrowed and constricted, even as such developments maintain the illusion of freedom. In such conditions, this
ends up meaning only a series of multiple choice decisions; the user’s ‘free’ decisions to surrender, piece-by-piece, their autonomy in exchange for access to new innovations and applications.
- Chris Clarke Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland
Full text (PDF) p. 342-347