Screenshot of preparations for “Aesthetic Strategies As Critical Interventions”

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011: Aesthetic strategies as critical interventions. Works presented by JR Carpenter, Renée Turner, Andreas Jacobs and Simon Biggs. Panel hosted by Rita Raley. Location: Perdu Theater, Kloveniersburgwal 86, Amsterdam.

I talked briefly about De Geuzen’s work the Global Anxiety Monitor, which ran from 2007 until October 2011. Operating through the browser, the work juxtaposed live Google image searches in different languages. Querying anxiety buzzwords such as terrorism, conflict, financial crisis, and climate change, each language delivered its own unique set of results that represented convergent and at times conflictual perspectives.

In October 2011, the Global Anxiety Monitor was disabled because Google changed how image search is accessed, and embedding frames was no longer possible. Currently, the continuation of the project would only be attainable through Google’s API, or Application Programming Interface. Access to this requires users to sign up for an account and agree to Google’s Terms of Service, they can be better monitored, and if necessary, access restricted. It’s important to note that even after we posted this message Google deprecated its image search API – this means that even if you want to be an insider, soon that too will not be supported. De Geuzen decided not to adapt the work to fit these requirements, and has archived it not only as a document of the work itself, but also as snapshot of a particular method of poaching in the world wide web.

Interrogating the piece and its recent demise, I spoke about the limits of graceful degradation, the web’s shift towards monitoring and mirroring, and the fragility of parasitic digital ecologies. Lastly, I asked if the collapse of digital works, like the Monitor, might reflect on times when models of the web were less centralized and monitized.