Online

Online Art: Tedium Is the Medium

by Kyle Chayka on April 28, 2011

Engblom's “wShare” (image via thestate.tumblr.com)

Online exhibition space The State has a new show up. This time, it’s Jacob Broms Engblom‘s “wShare,” a fetishization of those internet moments when we’re just caught doing nothing but waiting. The piece evokes everything from downloading albums on Rapidshare-like services to staring at a slow loading bar.

A simple splash screen with the sans-serif words “Tired of Waiting?” splayed across the center and a countdown clock below, “wShare” is classic internet art — an economy of means produces a maximum effect. The page’s background and font color slowly, surreally shifts through a range of slightly nauseating combos of colors. When the timer runs out, a “download” button pops up at the bottom.

What’s waiting for you isn’t a .RAR file of pirated tunes or a ripped DVD, but a .BIN file of code mimicking the website. The work turns the waiting process into an experience itself, not unlike Andy Warhol’s embrace of the “boring” in his 8-hour long Empire film. The slowly shifting colors barely hold the viewers attention, but we’re still stuck in an implacable compulsion to see what happens when the timer runs out. Maybe this time it’ll do something different?

Screenshot of Engblom's “wShare” (capture by author)

“wShare” also embraces the unique aesthetic of the mass-upload site, from its name to its browser tab logo. Playing off the looks of sites like Megaupload and Yousendit, “wShare” has a miniature logo of a swooping arrow, curving around and pointing back down. It’s dynamic without meaning anything, a subconscious echo of those earlier internet experiences with actual upload sites — it’s actually appropriated wholly from Rapidshare.com. Having “wShare” open in my browser, more than a few times I’ve mistook it for an open Rapidshare window and clicked through for a download.

Though “wShare” does succeed in re-emphasizing the process of waiting online, the countdown clock a more recent equivalent to a log-on dial tone, it doesn’t go very far in aestheticizing the experience. It’s a minimal piece, but not austere or conceptually complicated enough to not look a little bit dated. One of my favorite parts of the piece — the mini tab logo — is much more finished than the site itself, though its appropriated. It seems like “wShare” could be improved by sticking closer to its sources. The work’s models usually tend toward the Baroque rather than the simple, with masses of loading bars and flashing ads, hallucinogenic in their own way.

Click and find out for yourself — is the waiting really worth it? Is the tedium the medium?

“wShare” by Jacob Broms Engblom is on view at The State.

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  • Anonymous

    Nice

    • http://twitter.com/chaykak Kyle Chayka

      Badum-chhh

      • Anonymous

        Crap! My comment should have read “This comment is loading…” ;)

  • http://twitter.com/anewdayswork A New Days Work

    Fantastic article! Engblom’s “wShare” is a great work on expectation, duration, and time on the Internet. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, works that play off not just the aesthetics and platforms of art on the Internet, but engage our time and patience online.

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