ubiquitous internet suggestions are brought to pastoral settings with 'signs of the times'

ubiquitous internet suggestions are brought to pastoral settings with 'signs of the times'

creative duo scott kelly and ben polkinghorne have brought omnipresent internet suggestions to real settings with their latest project, ‘signs of the times’. they have installed large scale banners with ‘suggestions’ one would typically see on internet shopping sites in different public spaces around new zealand.

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
the large scale of the photographs parallels the magnificent sites they are placed on



the art project was inspired by a reflection on filtering recommender algorithms, which now ‘run the world’. these algorithms are also known as ‘customers who bought this item also bought…’ suggestions. they’ve become ubiquitous in the online world, determining what we look at, buy and like. scott and ben wanted to reveal the hidden world of these algorithms with these massive billboard messages. 

the banners recall computer screen or app suggestions for online shoppers



‘perhaps you’re worried that as your life moves online and ‘alexa’ moves into your living room, your decisions are essentially being made for you’ write ben and scott. the project forces viewers to question how much control the internet is having over their lives. their placement in pastoral settings such as the mountains or near the beach further suggests the concept of being unable to ‘escape’ the internet. the project aligns with the artists’ previous work which makes subtle observations and subvert the meaning of ordinary objects. 

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
the beautiful gardens are interrupted by the large white signs

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
‘if you liked this garden, you might like the wellington botanical gardens or the australia zoo’

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
the beach paradise is interrupted by the photographs of other beaches

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
‘if you liked this beach, you might like the mamanuca islands or erawan falls’

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
rather than live in the moment, the signs force viewers to contemplate somewhere else they could be having fun

signs of times scott kelly and ben polkinghorne
‘people who liked this also liked mcdonald’s or rainbow’s end’


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