Signal from Noise

March 29 – May 3, 2015

Artists: Sophia Brueckner, Lev Manovich / Software Studies Initiative, Nyeema Morgan, and Evan Roth

Mass distribution of information is no longer dependent on traditional gatekeepers. Anyone with a will and wi-fi access can share content and ideas on any variety of platforms, allegedly performing democratic ideals through a profound decentralization of media power. Yet, as producers and consumers of information, individuals engaging with the web must contend with the sheer cacophony of other voices and perspectives amid additional contributions that are generated via automation or algorithm. Regardless of origin or intent, all these influences coalesce into the content of Web 2.0: a now familiar result of crowd-sourcing, casual over-participation, and neoliberal opportunism that somehow also maintains a kernel of political promise.

The digital agora is always with us, a screen-based experience that has ever-greater impact upon daily life. In this conflation of online and offline, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish signal from noise. Whether linking to ideations or inversions of truth, intelligibility, legibility, or desirability, these italicized terms are remarkably unstable in their application, and may vary significantly between users. This, compounded with ever-shortening cycles of expression and absorption, yields an increasingly obscured engagement.

Inspired by web-infused environments of the everyday, Signal from Noise presents ways in which crowd-sourcing, aggregation, and filtering appear to stand in for more traditional processes of social participation and representation. Gesturing towards the political f/utility of this public forum, the exhibition features artworks derived from interfaces between user and screen.

Curated by Elizabeth Larison


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