“Public Access Me” is a new project for the New Museum’s monthly First Look: New Art Online series by Swedish artist Jonas Lund (b. 1984).
“Public Access Me” is an advancement of a project Lund launched earlier this year called Selfsurfing that allows viewers to watch a live, auto-updating clone of his personal browser. Through Selfsurfing, viewers can follow Lund as he surfs the web—reading the news, working, shopping, etc.
“Public Access Me” is differentiated from Selfsurfing by an additional layer of access that Lund has opened up: in this version, viewers can watch Jonas as he participates in social media (Facebook, Twitter) and even as he emails—all live. Since the stream of pages available for viewers corresponds to Lund’s actual activity online, this radical reveal of his personal networks and online activity unfolds in an often mundane experience that the artist likens to “watching TV.” Encountering “Public Access Me” at different points during the day, viewers may see an article Lund is reading, details of a sandwich shop where he has just gone to pick up lunch, or a shot of his email inbox in real time. Reminiscent of the durational works by performance artists like Tehching Hsieh, “Public Access Me” involves an intense commitment from Lund over a concentrated period of time: opening and free sharing all his information to a boundless public.
By directly engaging the new level of openness and visibility present in contemporary culture, “Public Access Me” presents privacy not only as a contested and changing concept but, possibly, an outmoded option. Today, we participate in third-party platforms—be they social media services, online shopping networks, or privately-hosted email—to which we regularly, often unthinkingly, surrender our personal data, by signing up, registering, posting, and uploading details of our lives. “Public Access Me” takes this new era of unconscious surrender to an extreme, by literally offering up everything the artist is doing without question or permission. For Lund, “Public Access Me” is also an experiment in what kind of new behaviors or activities this level of openness will create. Will Lund show us everything? Or will he develop strategies to shield certain interests or activities?
“Public Access Me” draws on Lund’s previous works in addition to Selfsurfing that create public trails or archives of his activities. I Am Here or There (2011) broadcast live every URL the artist passed through; the project is preserved as a long list of links that records his time online. The Paintshop.biz (2012) encouraged anonymous users to collectively create a work of art, which was finished when a signature and purchase was made. Collectively, Lund’s prescient works reflect on contemporary networks and question the conventional behaviors we adopt in a culture quickly adapting to new technologies.
About First Look: New Art Online
To celebrate the Museum’s 35th Anniversary, the award-winning New Museum website (newmuseum.org) has been reconceived as a unique destination with major new programs designed to strengthen and serve our digital audience. The re-envisioned website launches several key online initiatives such as the First Look series that will showcase a new digital artwork each month. The selected works will represent the breadth of art online—from interactive documentary, to participatory applications, to moving-image-based works, all exploring the formal, social, and aesthetic possibilities of the web. Works will vary from pre-existing projects, which have had little exposure, to new commissions. The New Museum will invite artists who take the internet as their primary medium as well as artists established in other fields who have a project they would like to execute online. First Look is curated by Lauren Cornell, Curator of the 2015 “The Generational” Triennial, Museum as Hub, and Digital Projects. This new series reflects a strengthening of the New Museum’s ongoing commitment to the digital realm as a space for art making and its relationship with Rhizome, a leading online platform and longtime affiliate organization in residence at the Museum.