For Wim Vanhenden the internet is his main source of inspiration.
He approaches it as an objective observer and let's the spectator use his work as a paradigm to interpret the "real world".
In some cases he confronts the visitor with himself and the virtual world that surrounds him.
In the artists opinion the internet is 'multi layered'.
We all use it in our daily lives, like sending e-mail's, for looking up things, work, travel booking, entertainment, education, communication, etc...
It has taken such a place in our lives that most of us even forget they are using the internet. It's just there.
Different from the content we all use daily there a many other layers of data.
Underneath booking a journey or looking up a cooking recipe there is extreme violence, tons of (hardcore) porn, holocaust denial but also free news gathering, non commercial and free music, archives, people indexes, ... It's all under our fingertips but most of us never go there...
Wim Vanhenden's works use the internet but mostly they do not run on the internet.
It's art that uses the internet but it's not internet art.
They are meant to be presented outside of the familiar environment people are used to be in when dealing with the internet.
By doing so he places the spectator in a position where he/she is forced to look at the internet, forced to know about it's existence and forced to look at the multi layer content presented.
We Are The World
The artist starts from random data that he plucks real time from the internet by means of a specialized technique, which in the jargon is called ‘scraping’. This method is used to extract relevant information off certain web pages in order to process it afterwards.
In his case, the artist consults several search engines. From the obtained pages he then extracts the search terms that at the same moment are being entered by the anonymous internet users. The latter cannot suspect that their key search terms will be the subject of this installation.
Once the data is collected, the artist processes it in a rather unusual manner: he experiments with the form, rather than with the content that remains intact. The scraped search terms are projected according to a specific algorithm and are furthermore converted into sound fragments.
The way in which the information reaches the observer is defined by the spirit of the age: volatile, fragmentary, incoherent. Nevertheless the visitor is fascinated by the information he perceives. His amazement is in place here: in this spectacle he is after all a mere passive observer, looking over the shoulder of the non-suspecting internet user. And yet he seems extremely captivated (by what he sees). The interactivity does not exist by means of the visitor but exists by means of his fellow human feeding the application.
Is it the real time experience, in which the data is altering continuously and by that making it unpredictable? Or is his fascination related to some kind of voyeurism, in which case the work of art can be seen as a paradigm for our world. The visitor can observe the whereabouts of his fellow human in real time on the internet. We Are The World is a mirror: sooner or later the observer will be confronted with a search term which he could have entered himself.
The Interpreter is a 'translation' software package.
It interprets a given book through the Google image search engine.
It returns a 'virtual time framed stamp' of the particular book and so creating a new contemporary book existing of images. One can see this a real-time translation of any given book by mankind in general. It is not the artist who decides which pictures are used.
The decision is made by our fellow humans when they put their images online.
Each book is first split into pre-defined blocks. A block can be a sentence, a paragrahp or any structure defined by the Natural Language Processing software.
The software then analyses the structure of these blocks by using 'part of speech tagging' and 'synctactical parsing'. By using these methods each block now consists of clusters.
Every cluster is now 'thrown' into the Google image search engine resulting in every cluster having a corresponding image.
These images and their textual representation are now projected. In the background the software starts printing the images resulting in a new book.
When running the same book over a different periods in time the reader will see that the images representing the same cluster will change, creating a new book over and over.
The Participator is best described as 'web-cam scraper' software.
The internet has created a revolution by revealing all kinds of content to everyone at any time. In times were social and political conservatism is growing this piece of art, in all it's simplicity, hits you right in the face.
It presents the viewer a grid with screenshots of live porno web-cams. Every 3-10 seconds the screenshots are refreshed.
Another web-cam view is placed in the center, placing the visitor right in the middle of the action. By doing this the spectator is forced to see this content is freely available on the internet at the time he/she is watching.
The effect is even more reinforced because the work is not running on the internet but taken out of it's context and placed into another environment.