The “bit.fall” essay by Natalia Shapkina

The work “bit.fall” was made in 2005 by german artist Julius Popp who works at the intersection of science and art. The installation makes us feel very special atmosphere. Insight the dark industrial space we can see words approximately once a second appearing from nowhere and dissolving. The size of the words is quite big and they are meaningfull. RELATION, HUMAN, AGREEMENT…Each of them brings a sertain train of thoughts. But at the same time those words are ephemeral because of the specificity of the technology which was used to create them. They are taken from the Internet and made from light by projecting it on waterfall. It brings us to thinking about time, memory, fragility, vulnerability, illusions, life and death.
From one perspective the piece looks as if it was constructed in quite a simple way. By using light, water and text the artist brings to our consciousness fundamental questions of our life that hardly were solved in the era of the new technologies. Сommenting on his work J.Popp points out that no one actually knows how life works, how a culture functions or how humans deal with one another.
But from another perspective we can see complexity of the work if we take into account a machine. The words we see are not just taken at random. The machine using statistical and informational analysis brings words that are loaded by the biggest amount of information. Drops of water serve as building blocks, as bits from which information is formed.
Does the meaning of the eternal question itself changes if we use digital technologies to formulate them? I think for Popp the answer is “yes”. There is no sense to talk about simply “eternal” questions that stays the same, we need to try to take into account the prosseses of permanent changing.
It is obvious that Popp tries to reflect on the Internet, its capacity to catch the attention of people and those multiple changes it brings.
Let’s consider for instance the aspect of knowledges. The internet brings to us huge amounts of information on many different aspects of life including politics, economy, culture etc. But it also brings a lot of rubbish, commercials, ideology. But the speed of float of information doesn’t give us time to think. We got used to fragmentize our perseption, not to pay too much of attention to all those bright links, ads and provocative titles. But what price do we pay to get this ability to orientate in the web?
I think that using machine as a tool and part of his installation Popp tries to think of some unconscious and automatic aspects of our perception and thinking. It is very important that he works with light here. For Marshal McLuhan light is an extremely important media. Paradoxically it stays invisible because it is usually perceived as a condition of our perception but not it’s object. But when we concentrate on light itself we start to understand how it forms what we see. In this work medium (light) is a massage (shapes of the letters) in a very direct sense. But it doesn’t stay motionless, it changes and reminds us very important for Popp idea that meanings or values change very fast. “Meanings can already be completely different by tomorrow”. And the artist propose each viewer not to be passive recipient but start to think how the Internet with all its social networks, interfaces, high speed and huge amount of information affect meanings of the words that circulate within the web and the words that are not included there.Short documentary about Julius Popp’s BitFall project

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