A will, a way?
The pointing finger can indicate direction or an intent to travel from one position to the next. This common motif that displays the location of a computer mouse’s pointer implies the strength of intention when we navigate online spaces, that we know where we are going and that autonomous choice wields control. With reference to Borgean labyrinths and maps, a directionless compass and a night-sky of illuminated fingerprints, this tactile interface takes the form of a globe on which to navigate using a glove that incorporates an IR-light sensor.
When we use a mouse to move around a screen and when we click on something, we are indicating where we want to go, it’s an extension of our pointing finger which leads us in a certain direction. I remember reading an article by the philosopher Raymond Tallis and his proposition that pointing is a manifestation of will and intention, and also pointing forward through time, into the future. But do we really know where we are going? How autonomous are our decisions online? How much control do we really have over the paths that we take?
The broken compass that responds to the mouse movement in this piece is certainly not going to help, as it spins, pointing in different directions and confusing our navigation even further. When you move left the movements are quicker, when you move right, it does a full 180degree rotation.
A labyrinth has been constructed that we have to find our ways through. Our pointing finger is a digital extension of our direction of travel and where we want to go. But the labyrinth is also about identity, it challenges us to ask ‘where am I? who am I? where have I come from?’
We like to think we know where we are going but perhaps it seems more likely that we are lost. Maybe the point is not to find answers but to continually question things, to wander and meander, and to explore without being told where to go.
On the screen or projection is an image that is reminiscent of a starry nightsky but is made of illuminated fingerprints on mobile phones and digital screens. Hinting towards the blanket criminalisation of observable actions implied in contemporary surveillance practices, these fingerprints are made visible through the use of ultraviolet light. A connection between physical and virtual space, these traces allude to the trails we leave behind (often unseen to us) when we are navigating online territory.
A will, a way? was awarded one of the prizes at Sankt Interface 2021, an annual event for interactive art in Linz, Austria.
In the media
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