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GALLERY 2010/2011

mobilization

Sarkofree

Webpage


Description of campaign/project


This work takes the shape of a small, easy to install add-on for the Firefox web browser. Once installed, the user has the ability to make French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife disappear from the Internet -- and I don't mean blocking pages, but more subtly removing the pictures and text paragraphs that mention them.
So yes, it's a joke. But it's also
1. A very serious reaction to the hysterical media exposure of those two characters (although they've gotten slightly better since the first release of the add-on).
2. An invitation for people to imagine "a world without...", with direct illustration.
3. An experiment in the semantics of tools: here is a computer program, it is purely a tool, isn't it? But it carries meaning, it raises questions, and triggers debates on hundreds of blogs...
4. An invitation, finally, to meditate on the power of the web browser, as a tool, in an age where we rely more and more on the Internet to know the world around us: you trust your browser blindly, you don't even see it -- it's "just a tool" --, but what if it starts distorting "reality"?


Minimal direct communication, although a blog was open after the tool gained popularity to answer some common questions and criticisms. But it was initially just "lying there" on a webpage for a few months until a few people tried it and it "caught": the meaning, the communication, is the tool and the experience of using it.


I suppose it's triggered a few discussions, but no "epiphany": the hyper-exposition phenomenon it denounces was never an original find. The most positive, concrete, touching and surprising thing for me was the number of emails i received along the lines of "Thank you so much for this" -- I had intended it as a joke, and then realized that there were actually not a few people for whom the omnipresence of Our Presidential Highness was a source of real distress... A young woman told me she'd had dreams of him chasing her! So, they liked the rosy glasses; it's not how I'd meant it, but it's also useful in a way, I guess.
More than a year later, there are still, according to Mozilla's site, hundreds of people using it, and I still get complaints when I'm not fast enough to upgrade the code for new version of Firefox.


The main lesson seems, to me, that tools carry meaning, probably even more so than text. When you use the tool, it directly interacts with your perception, your "doing", not your rational thinking, so the message touches you more intimately. I suspected it, but did not imagine it would work so well.
A second lesson is the power of simple, minimal things : one use, one button to click. Technical refinement gets in the way of semantics.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

It’s somehow a method of liberalisation and I like the idea of “removing the pictures and text paragraphs that mention Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife” maybe “it is a joke”, but I think it’s also very serious, rigorous joke, like you explain: “1. A very serious reaction to the hysterical media exposure of those two characters (although they've gotten slightly better since the first release of the add-on). 2. An invitation for people to imagine "a world without...", with direct illustration. 3. An experiment in the semantics of tools: here is a computer program, it is purely a tool, isn't it? But it carries meaning, it raises questions, and triggers debates on hundreds of blogs... 4. An invitation, finally, to meditate on the power of the web browser, as a tool, in an age where we rely more and more on the Internet to know the world around us: you trust your browser blindly, you don't even see it -- it's "just a tool" --, but what if it starts distorting "reality"? I might agree with all these points. With this tool we can visualise the different (www) world. However act-of-erasing – for me - may be also act-of-doing.

Since the 1960s French artists Christian Boltanski, he has worked reverse, with the ephemera of the human experience, from old, mostly obituary photographs to rusted biscuit tins. Several of Boltanski's projects, Les Enfants for example, have been thematic, used hundreds of photography of missed or dead children (mostly Jewish) vanished in II. world war, creating collections which produce memory, recall and memorialise the missed in the cacophony of world history.

Not to “free Nelson Mandela”, but “free of Sarkozy”; it’s a way to get free/liberate the contamination and pollution in internet web contents with commercial, political affairs, banal, dull, awful, ghastly which are offensive and for a web user invasion on her/his privacy. This is how web could - a petite, to some extent – be changed. Today the web is marketing, trading people, mostly celebrities, who politics are, like heroes; media is screening their private lives like essential events. Here really everything is for sale, we very often via media somehow participate in capture and in trade of human souls. The question is can we take direction which is not trade, abuse or madness? Meeting the people by the internet is not really possible, so removing people from the stage is won’t happened just by erasing pictures. (Figuratively in past it used to be easier, because of the numbers, removing or scratch and cut the posters of politicians on the streets). But as well how can we believe in democracy if there are always more or less the same persons are elected? Just ‘biennial’ changed. This is technocracy which is not government by the people.

View other works commented by Alen Ožbolt  ››

Other comments

adjtifrice
8 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the very interesting feedback ; I hope to be able to explore similar ideas in the near future, albeit perhaps in a better semantically constructed way.

alenozbolt
8 years, 6 months ago

sure, and good luck!

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 1 curator(s):
Alen Ožbolt go to comments ›

Entry details

Title

Sarkofree


Headline

Put on your rosy red glasses


Concept author(s)

Mathias Rossignol


Concept author year(s) of birth

1979


Concept author(s) contribution

Original concept, computer code for the add-on, presentation text, design(minimal). (concerning the "country" choice below, I am French but have lived in Vietnam for 6 years)


Country

France, Metropolitan


Other author(s)

Martin Vidberg


Other author(s) year(s) of birth

?


Other author(s) contribution

Comic artist who allowed me to use excerpts from his drawings as icons for the program ( http://vidberg.blog.lemonde.fr )


Country

France


Competition category

mobilization


Competition field

academic


Competition subfield

educator/researcher


Subfield description

Hanoi University of Natural Sciences, dept of Informatics ; PLEASE NOTE this wasn't produced as part of my professional activity.