Discoverable Place in Cyberspace – Cheryl Sourkes
People operate their computers close at hand, within the proximal sphere normally reserved for intimates or for focused activity like deskwork, food prep, gaming and such. One’s computer may feel like a tool, a companion, an extension of oneself, or a mixture of the three. Although images of people and places may originate anywhere in the world, webcam transmissions land in this receptive zone. That webcams come down in real time only heightens feelings of intimacy. In addition, even beyond webcams’ pervasive sexual display, there’s a voyeuristic dynamic to watching webcams that imparts a frisson to whatever appears on screen.
Discoverable Place in Cyberspace showcases three episodes taken from webcams; each presents a ‘landscape’ compromised by a different sort of human intervention. In the first, clouds in the sky over Germany roll by a tree branch that’s entangled with an upright slat. In the second, a transport truck travels a generic highway through Middle America’s countryside. In the third, a cross-dressing, male beauty becomes digitally wrapped/unwrapped by a virtual sunset. These sequences alternate with exaggerated elements of the Mac operating system’s user interface. Made almost entirely of computer-based sounds, the audio track is equally reflexive.
Oh, and a note or two about ‘discoverable’. In ordinary language ‘discoverable’ is obviously an adjectival form of the word ‘discover’. However for programmers the term is technical. When a Bluetooth device is set to be ‘discoverable’, it sends out radio signals to advertise its location to other devices and computers.
Cheryl Sourkes is a lens-based digital artist, writer and independent curator currently based in Toronto, Ontario. She studied at McGill University before moving to Vancouver in 1967. There she became involved with Intermedia, an experimental context within which she began to think about and produce art. University and post-graduate studies in sciences, psychology and biology directed Sourkes to explore behavioural science, physiological processes and awareness. For more than 25 years, she has had a prolific career exploring, recurrent themes of language, time, history and the conditions of perception through photography, and more recently through new technologies.
For the last decade, Sourkes’s work has investigated the visual dimension of technology, especially the social and cultural developments that have arisen with Internet web cameras. Sourkes has used images pulled from webcams and transforming them into still images or videos. In her artwork she raises questions about time and space, public and private space, as well as our understanding of the real world, the virtual world and the social sphere.