Google Office 0.2, 2010
by The Improvement League
Taipei Biennial 2010
Curated by Tirdad Zolghadr and Hongjohn Lin
Assembled and directed by Michael Portnoy, the Improvement League is a think tank comprising artist/futurologist Steven Johnson, artist Adriana Lara, writer/curator Raimundas Malasauskas, Cabinet magazine editor Sina Najafi, artist Michael Portnoy, and architect Gro Sarauw. The League was established to “improve” existing breeds of art making by pruning, grafting and hybridizing certain lines of thought, in a kind of conceptual horticulture. More futurology than critique, the League uses the seeds within contemporary forms and approaches as tools for invention.
Six months prior to the opening of the Biennial, The League was given the proposals of all the artists in the exhibition and selected Olivia Plender’s Google Office installation as the subject of their inaugural action. Transmuting its genetic material at an early stage of development, they grew an errant twin, producing an installation that was exhibited alongside Plender’s artwork.
The League’s Google Office 0.2 was a multi-room living search engine, accommodating one person at a time for a befuddling five minute search.
The line of people waiting to enter Google Office 0.2, one person per session.
Stage 1: Attendants ask the visitor for a search query.
They “refine” his search by focusing on all the non-salient information in his sentences and relentlessly permuting the content.
Stage 2: The desk platform rotates 180 degrees revealing a desk three times as tall. A door opens in the front and a supervisor invites the visitor in to further refine the search. Inside the desk is a nightclub for two people.
Stage 3: Black angular mirrors, dull muffled music. The supervisor, who had been surveilling on the visitor’s conversation with the attendants, further perverts and abstracts the content into a mostly wordless dance.
Stage 4: The nightclub opens and the supervisor takes the visitor to a hole in the wall and gives him a glimpse into the Searchable Universe where supposedly an “improved” version of the object of the search query can be found.
Stage 5: The visitor sees a quickly moving image of a snow-camo environ, the camera darting over forms and into containers. The image never rests enough in order to provide any clear perception of the environment.
The viewfinder is connected to a fiber optic videoscope held by one performer and 2 other performers manipulate representations of past queries, mixed with “improvements” of other works in the biennial. Visitor is ejected.