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Screen Time

By  Michael Day 2016

Screen grab of looped animation

Screen Time is an artwork delivered on the web that considers the consequences of overuse of social media and digitally networked technology.

In recent years, the widespread increase in the use of smartphones has led to a preoccupation in mainstream thought with the potential effects of internet overuse and information overload. ‘Internet addiction’ has become the subject of a proliferation of self-help blogs, despite academic opinion being divided on existence of such a condition. Rather than considering the role that the advertising-led economic model of the social media providers might play in generating distraction and engendering compulsive usage, self-help blogs compel the user to take responsibility for their own pathologised ‘addiction’. In line with neoliberal rationality, the self is positioned as responsible for its own value, and distractedness is framed as both the user’s fault and the user’s problem to solve.

This piece appropriates texts from self-help blogs that challenge the internet user to ‘check themselves’ with regard to their internet and social media use. The decontextualised presentation of these texts prompts the viewer to consider the legitimacy of the questioning, or how appropriate it might be. The texts are combined with a blocky, abstracted map background that spatially locates the centres of production of internet services and hardware, such as the Googleplex, Twitter HQ, or Apple’s Infinite Loop. The resulting piece presents itself partly as a hypnotic, passive invocation to mindfulness, and partly as a nagging address to the viewer’s own anxieties about their internet use.

Exhibited at:
Research Into Practice symposium at Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, University of London, January 2015
Affect & Social Media #3 Conference, University of East London, May 2017.

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