Abhishek Narula

MFA in Art

You are (not) here

We have a unique relationship with our smartphone. It has become part of us. It is the lens through which we experience our presence in time and space. While we see its glowing screen, hear its notifications, and feel its sleek beveled edges, we do not experience its network properties.

You are (not) here materializes and visualizes the ethereal landscape where our smartphones are most active. It makes visible, so as to attempt to make thinkable, the forms of networked power that extend beyond the physical presence of the smartphone in our hands. This exhibition disrupts the grip the smartphone has on us, by creating a critical distance that enables us to reflect on what we cannot see.

Street Signs
Our smartphones use WiFi routers as landmarks to determine their location in physical space. See what street signs your smartphone sees by placing it on the antenna.

Ctrl-C Ctrl-V
This 10 x 15 X 8 ft replica of the artist’s home studio is constructed from shielding fabric that traps all radio waves. WiFi signals were copied from his studio and then pasted within the structure. Step inside and find yourself in the artist’s home.

Disappearing Act
Use this pouch while you enjoy this show. The radio shielding fabric blocks all signals. Your smartphone is rendered useless. Put your smartphone inside it and become invisible.

Street Signs
Our smartphones use WiFi routers as landmarks to determine their location in physical space. See what street signs your smartphone sees by placing it on the antenna.

Run Router Run
Our smartphones continuously scan their surroundings to find WiFi routers. Apple & Google collect this information to maintain a database of the geographic location of all WiFi routers. Apple & Google use this data as landmarks to map our physical landscape. Once the white router above you gets discovered, it evades Apple & Google’s capture by moving to the other end of the gallery.

The Networks Speaks
Readily available smart plugs have been manipulated to articulate the copious network activity of this gallery. They will click whenever any device connected to the gallery network makes a request.