An audio visual installation composed of 5,000 internet video diaries is currently on display at famed modern art gallery, the Saatchi Gallery, in London. Entitled "Hello World! Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noiseâ€, the work by US artist Christopher Baker consists of video diaries being projected on a wall and the voices from the videos being heard in a "multi-channel sound compositionâ€, which allows the viewer to listen to the combined effect of the thousands of voices or to focus on an individual voice.
It is the first time that the 2008 installation has been displayed in the UK, and the work will be sure to challenge many people's perception of what constitutes art today, and how the internet can be understood in terms of modern art, so that 'modern art' and 'the internet' need not be necessarily seen as mutually exclusive terms. The internet is, after all, a human invention, but perhaps one that humans sometimes feel they cannot fully claim understanding of and ownership over, as the internet has become so vast and so full of content, as this installation indicates, with its chorus of human faces and voices detailing their lives, vying to be heard, competing against thousands of others.
The personal videos could be read as individual attempts to humanise the technology of the internet and personal identity, the understanding of which has undergone a major shift in recent times. The videos now have a whole new audience and a new context in which to be understood, the modern art world, which is a development that creators of video diaries probably never envisage when they record themselves on camera and post it online.
The description of the work on the Saatchi Gallery site says that "the project is a meditation on the contemporary plight of democratic, participative media and the fundamental human desire to be heard. The artist Christopher Baker, who originally trained as a scientist, is inspired by the interconnectivities – visible and invisible- present in the 21st-century urban landscape and is interested in the practical implications of our increasingly networked lifestylesâ€.
For those not resident in London, the video below provides as close an experience as possible to actually attending the exhibition. The sheer size of the work, as made evident in the video, makes for an overwhelming experience; in their individual attempts to be heard in the modern world, are the voices in these videos in fact having the opposite effect and drowning each other out?