3rd 01SJ Biennial September 2010

A global festival of art on the edge

On Translation: Social Networks

Antoni Muntadas
On Translation: Social Networks, 2006
01SJ Festival, 2006
San Jose Convention Center
Permanent installation
Commissioned by ZER01 and produced with CADRE, San Jose State University, while in residence at the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Program at Montalvo Arts Center.
Displayed in the main corridor of the San Jose Convention Center, On Translation: Social Networks consists of a large panel painted with a map of the world. The panel serves as a 3-D element in itself, and as a substrate for a video projection, where colored lines blend, curve and move across a map of the globe. A selected word triggers motion and highlights points on the map.

The artists chose over 100 organizations representing a wide range of contemporary cultural production. Visitors to the OTSN website rate what percentage an organization is based in spheres of military, technology, culture, or economy.

The four colors in the top left hand corner of the screen, green, red, blue and white, correlate to militaristic, technological, cultural and economic spheres of culture respectively. The color of the lines moving across the map indicate what degree a site is comprised of the various four cultural spheres; the degree of influence is reflected through additive color mixing. For instance, Haliburton rates high militarily and technologicallly, and low culturally, translating to greed+red = yellow. Hence, the curving line that moves to Haliburton is yellow.

The bottom of this screen displays single words gathered from a swath of websites ranging from Apple.com to Rhizome.org. The selected words are largely of military origin, but are in widespread use in the other 3 systems analyzed here.

OTSN moves through each word listed across the bottom, one at a time, and simultaneously spiders through the websites of each of the 100 organizations, looking for the particular word. The color above each word indicates what kinds of networks use this word. What once was language largely invented and used by the military, now extends to other kinds of organizations.

The percentage of pages with the word on a given site determines the height of the bars at the top center of the map, which then send out the curving lines to the physical spot on the map.

OTSN examines the economic, cultural, technological and military systems operating throughout the social fabric of the present day, and asks how these systems influence each other through language and word use. A new kind of cartography for the 21st century emerges, where physical sites map to systems of cultural relevance that extend into the virtual, affecting and transforming each other.