To answer life’s big questions, we increasingly turn to the Internet hive mind. Twitter, Facebook, reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers and countless other forums allow users to crowdsource real-time responses to queries on any subject, from what to name a baby to how to organize a funeral. Enquire Within Upon Everybody explores the limits of these powerful new tools of human enquiry.
Audiences in Sydney and Darwin are being invited to tweet questions on any subject to #enquiresydney or #enquiredarwin and see them answered by the global data stream. The Q&A session unfolds in real time on public screens in both two cities, reflecting the hopes and anxieties of each urban centre and the distinctive, emergent personality of social data itself. A warning: the answers you receive might not be what you wanted to hear, but they might just be what you wanted to say.
The work incites timely questions about problem-solving in the digital age, the un/reliability of social data and the im/possibility of uniqueness in networked environments, where almost everything we want to say is already being said by someone else. It’s part of an ongoing series of collaborations between myself and writer Chris Rodley which explore the poetics of search: the creative possibilities of filtering and recombining online data through search engine queries.
Enquire Within Upon Everybody ran from 8-16 June at The Concourse, Chatswood in Sydney and Nan Giese Gallery, Darwin.