Ursula Endlicher: Sunrise/Sunset
Dec 15, 2011–Mar 5, 2013
“Light and Dark Networks” consists of two online “data performances”— taking place at sunset and sunrise, respectively—inspired by the structures of natural networks and affected by weather and environmental changes. Visitors encounter depictions of a spider’s web at sunrise and a mushroom’s mycelium—a network of hidden branching filaments that absorb nutrients for the mushrooms to grow—at sunset. Virtual creatures, a spider and mushrooms impersonated by the artist, are activated to perform different “data dances” according to the changes in their habitat, which is defined by current New York City weather and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The spider web is blown into different locations on the Museum’s website according to wind direction and speed in New York City, and the number of mosquitos buzzing around the web is determined by the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Stretched across the Museum’s website, the mycelium changes its size on the basis of temperature and grows more mushroom videos in response to humidity levels, while the size of mushroom caps and number of spores are driven by CO2 levels. “Light and Dark Networks” explores networks as living organisms—be they spider webs, mycelium, or the Internet—as they are constantly changed by different artificial or natural parameters. Taking a look at the networked nature of both data and the physical environment, as well as their deeper structures, the work playfully examines how our physical and virtual existence are embedded in networks.
Sunrise/Sunset is a series of Internet art projects that mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day. All are commissioned by the Whitney specifically for whitney.org, each project unfolding over a timeframe of ten to thirty seconds.
Using whitney.org as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment. This form of engagement captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet, the intervention in existing online spaces. The series is organized by Christiane Paul, adjunct curator of digital art at the Whitney Museum.
To see the current project, be anywhere on this website during sunset or sunrise.