W3FI The Interactive Installation at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

19 Aug

The interactive installation W3FI is a social movement, a philosophy, a path to responsible connectivity between our online/offline lives and to each other and is currently on exhibit at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado until September 11, 2011.

Borrowing from a Buddhist path to enlightenment, the project will take the participants through a journey of understanding starting with consideration of how their digital self (we are using the term “S3LF”) impacts their everyday lives.

Every day we find more and more of our lives integrated in the digital world, no longer able to lead separate lives, one virtual and one real. This means that we have to take control of and responsibility for how others see and relate to us in the digital world. We are proposing a new philosophy, a new strategy for our online interactions. It is called “W3FI,” a combination of WiFi, the word ”we” and the slang use of the number 3 in place of the letter “e” to reference the digital parts of our lives. Currently people already consider WiFi to be a sort of invisible shared connection that is all around us and shifting it to “We” indicates a new awareness of how interconnected we really are online. The W3FI project is a movement in social activism to ask a new set of questions for each of us every time we click, text, or share a photo.

The artwork is a space for discussion, learning and consideration that is both local and universal. On the walls you can read an explanation of the W3FI philosophy lain out in a series of dynamic text and symbols.  The walls also feature statistics about national and international use of the internet, mobile phones, and social networks as well as live tweets from area residents who use the word “I” or “we.” There is an interactive space for people to add themselves to the W3FI network by having their face captured and added to an ever-growing forest of interconnected trees.

Open Source software was used in nearly every aspect of the show, including in the creation of the CNC milled topographic map of the local area which is overlaid by animated data visualizations about internet use and signals. The W3FI seats are there for visitors to relax, read, and discuss the ideas of the exhibition; the light patterns are modeled after the flocking of birds and fish and will evolve over time, much like our personal social networks. Motion activated sound modules spread throughout the space play the sounds of cell phones receiving notices of communication: texts, likes, tweets and the digital noise passing through all of us at every moment. We believe the power of activated experiences, offering pathways for moving forward together in a world where more than 3 billion people carry a possible connection to everyone else in our pocket.

Check out the time lapse video of the installation set up:

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