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The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-objective and reductive artists working in the UK

Website: Chestnuts Design

Sunday Salon 11 | What If This Is Who We Are?


Robert Good

15 August 2021, 1:00pm to 5:00pm, then open by appointment until 22 August


Cambridge artist Robert Good is showing new work at Saturation Point, sampling texts from the internet and re-presenting them in analogue and digital form to create an immersive new installation, featuring material from Love Island, the outbreak of Covid and selected Google Search results.


This is a chance to step back and reflect on the information overload: a moment of zen, perhaps, in the midst of the digital deluge.

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

ROBERT GOOD


To state the obvious: being online is the ecosystem in which we all live, and with recent events confining us to our homes, it is now a necessity for both social and economic survival. To opt out is to self-isolate as a form of solitary confinement. To opt out is to choose The Cooler, The Hole.  


A generation ago to be online was the opposite – it was heroic, adventurous, a journey into the weird and the unknown, the absurd and the fascinating, and it was mostly idealistic in intent. Now, that ecosystem is simply a new form of capitalism, hoovering up our data for sale, its services a means of surveillance, its algorithms a method to control our activities and preferences by defining our fears and desires.


Like capitalism itself it is as malignantas it is apparently necessary. And like capitalism, it has become too big to make sense of, to establish critical distance, to define meaningful traction. Only when it fails is our dependence, and its necessity, revealed. Then, like an addict, we recognise just how emotionally controlled we have become as consumers of news, gossip, rage, desire. Like zombies with ADHD we thrash around looking for purpose and affirmation.


It is into this black mirror that Robert Good delves to find meaning through processes of selection and categorisations of knowledge that lie amongst the debris of clickbait news. From this sound and fury he extracts patterns and structures that might reveal something of our relationship with these expanding empires of data.


Strategies to counter this spectacle of seduction involve the use of outmoded media, or to fold the content in on itself, so that reflexivity reveals its structure, its means of infection. To make sense of this noise, Goode arrests its flow of distraction, to ‘force quit’, so as to be out of time and to find the space in which to assimilate. The use of wall text, Teletext and tickertape become his chosen modes of visual language.


We are genetically programmed to be curious, and are easily distracted, and this is what pulls us down the rabbit holes of clickbait.  To make physical, to arrest and distort this distraction is to turn it into contemplation, and so remove its power to seduce. Disabled, power now lies in the jouissance of the text and its occupation of space. Our distraction becomes one of negotiation as the digital takes solid form. Google news headlines becomes a falling column of strips of paper physically occupying the centre of the space. On a monitor a teletext types out Daily Mail Love Island texts while a vinyl text of Coronavirus news headlines circumnavigates the wall. Through these analogue forms of representation we are forced to stop, and consequently consider.


Richard Ducker, 2021


Richard Ducker talked with Robert Good at the Saturation Point space - you can see the video here.