Copyright 2007-2012
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News Feed
Paper, PDF documents, portable WiFi network, laptop computer, wireless printer

Made for Words Beyond Grammar, a group exhibition curated by Claire Bushby and Steven James Finch at Spectrum Project Space (October 2016).
Artists: Sheridan Coleman, Karen Ann Donnachie and Andy Simionato, Alex Griffin, Kirsty Jade, Rebecca Jensen, Loren and David Kronemeyer, Danni McGrath, M-O (Sayaka Ohata and Joseph Mayrhofer-Ohata), Brontë Jones , Steven Tapping and Alex Tate.
Full exhibition gallery here.

From the curators:
Words Beyond Grammar began as a response to Boris Groys’s essay of the same title which explores how the internet, and in particular Google, are philosophical machines through which we struggle to gain access to the truth. Google changes the way we ask questions of and interact with the world – transforming our relationship to truth, translation, and the body.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.


Photos by Yvonne Doherty, Cirrus Photography

Here are some things I wrote about this work.

Didactic text
Facebook now drives more traffic to media sites than Google. (Ingram 2015.)

1. Open Facebook, note time and date in new document.
2. Scroll News Feed, open first 20 ‘news’ links in new tabs.
- - What is a ‘news’ link?
- - - Reporting on current events?
- - - - What is a current event?
- - - - - What is newsworthy?
- - - - - - Niche interests? (Is this self portraiture?)
- - - - - - - Satire?
3. Read article.
4. Transcribe headline, author, publishing date and URL into document. Do not copy and paste, rather re-type this content. You remember more of what you write than of what you just read.
5. Repeat until page is filled.
6. Send to print.

No two people see the internet in the same way. The content presented to me on Facebook is determined by my own attributes (likes, shares, personal information etc), those of the people and pages I interact with on the platform, and who paid the most to get my attention.

Artist statement
Growing up, I read the day’s newspaper over breakfast - The West Australian on weekdays, The Weekend West, The Weekend Australian and The Sunday Times on weekends. If Dad was driving we’d be listening to ABC 720, with Mum it was 96FM. In the evenings dinner was at 7.30pm, after the ABC News, with The 7.30 Report on in the background. There was a hierarchy to these sources. The Weekend Australian, with its imposing broadsheet format, was held in much higher regard than “The Sunday Slimes” bright, bold and breathy headlines. 96FM’s half hourly news bulletins were brought-to-you-by-KFC’s-new-rippa-sub-why-not-pick-one-up-on-your-way-home, while ABC 720 seemed to always be broadcasting some kind of Real News. The bright photographic backdrops and supermodel weather announcers of the Channel 7, 9 and 10 News were eschewed for the pragmatic navy blue and Proper Meteorologists of the ABC News.

This bias developed from several inputs. My parents’ social and political views, my education, the physical form and style of the media, advertising. Now that I predominately consume news media via Facebook, news content is flattened, their bias obscured. While the language style varies, a Buzzfeed article is presented in the same visual format as one from the ABC in the Facebook News Feed. Clickhole and The Onion adopt the language conventions of their ‘serious’ counterparts for satirical effect. The end game is engagement - the opening of a new tab where external editorial and, more to the point, advertising content is presented.

Facebook recently overtook Google as the main driver of traffic to major news media websites (Ingram, 2015). Groys suggested that Google is a kind of philosophical machine, answering our questions about the world through the aggregation of search term appearances. But this has always been filtered by commerce: from the sponsored links appearing first in a list of search results, to the tailoring of results based on user profiling. Google, and other traffic directing websites such as Facebook, are not machines of philosophy but rather sophisticated machines of commerce.

- - -

Reference: Ingram, Matthew. 2015. “Facebook has taken over from Google as a traffic source for news”. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2015/08/18/facebook-google/