The Saatchi Gallery has just opened a new film and screening room, just around the corner from the Saatchi Gallery on the King's Road. The first artist to take up residence in this room is Christopher Baker, a scientist-turned-multimedia artist who has installed his 2008 film "Hello World!" in the space.
"Hello World!" or as it's otherwise know "How I Learned To Stop Listening and Love the Noise" consists of one wall and one screen made up of 5000 faces all broadcasting their very first video diary via either Facebook or YouTube. Baker's intention was to allow individuals to voice their experiences and concerns from their bedrooms and offices to a worldwide audience. Of course, the videos taken off Facebook would have only originally been intended for friends and family to view where has YouTube has a more universal potential.
Anyone can make a video diary, all you have to do it set up your webcam and ramble on about whatever is on your mind or what you had for tea last night to anyone who cares to listen. Could this be a common desire to seek 15 minutes of fame or is it a cry for help in a world where nobody in tangible reality will listen to you rambling on?
The majority of the videos are made up of young Americans ranting from their dorms, but there are a few other languages to be picked out, as well as some crying and some singing. The sound is sometimes played as one headache-inducing mess but then at other times it fades so just one or two voices can be heard. What ties everything in is that no one is actually saying anything of any real importance or interest to anyone, and yet each and every broadcaster thinks that the viewer is interested.
Baker's scientific background is stemmed in the development of brain-computer interfaces. He also has a Masters in Fine Art & Experimental Media Arts at the University of Minnesota and is now taking on an Assistant Professor role in Art & Technology Studies at the University of Minneapolis. He maintains that his focus hasn't shifted since his career changed from scientist to artist and says he is still only interested in how new technology affects our perception of ourselves and expands our capabilities as human beings. Baker is concerned with the harmonisation of human outreach via technology. He praises YouTube for allowing the marginalised speakers amongst us, to at last be heard but does not like the way that one speaker tries to drown out the others. He believes that social networking makes us all better speakers but not particularly more intelligent, patient listeners.
Christopher Baker is right when he reminds us all that our Facebook timelines are only getting longer and longer, an unwipeable record of our past which could have been easily forgotten or carefully edited in photo albums and keepsakes had Facebook never been invented. A critic from the Telegraph stated that he thinks the internet is reducing everyone to the same state of averageness, in the past a stranger had a certain air of mystery and romance about them, whereas now some people are happy to bare their souls for all to see. Only time will tell what long-term social implications the internet will have on us human beings, but in the meantime it is helpful to have the insight from people like Baker to help us comprehend such a change in the world.
The Saatchi screening room can be found at 73 Duke of York Square, Kings Road, London SW7 4LY.
Writer, blogger and director of Smoking Gun Vintage