Evan Roth’s work often relies on the internet and its intricacies to pull off entertaining, often impressive, works of art. In works past, he’s gamed Google’s algorithm and exposed the winning moves needed to beat Angry Birds, both feats that are seemingly impossible to the everyday Internet user.
In his work for this year’s Sydney Biennale, though, he stripped down the technological requirements of his typical process by going into remote Sydney locations with just a video recorder. While viewers will engage with the work online, as they do with Roth’s other work, the videos captured in Sydney allow viewers to interact with the physical side of the internet – the man-made cables that we rely on to connect us to the internet-at-large. Roth’s videos focus in on these cable where they emerge from the ocean, which begs more questions of the relationship of nature and technology (more specifically, the Internet).
Other work in major exhibitions this year comment on audiences’ growing reliance on the internet and other digital systems. At the Armory Show, Douglas Coupland’s “facial derecognition software” brings Facebook’s face recognition software to a physical gallery space. However, like Roth’s work, the result of each subject’s scan (the “derecognition” of their face) can only be received via email. Both artists, then, question the role and capabilities of the internet, while still completely relying on it for their projects’ success.
For Roth, a return to more established methodologies like video recording stems from “a sense of disillusionment with the state of life online.” As he describes it, the internet is no longer as new or mysterious as it once was, so he “[finds himself] thinking less optimistically about that space.” In returning to more antiquated technologies and forcing viewers to experience nature’s slow pace compared to the digital sphere, Roth will ultimately draw more attention to all people’s disillusionment with the internet and its role in our everyday and the natural world.