Documentation of THE INFINITE CAVE installed at the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, 2023.
THE INFINITE CAVE
THE INFINITE CAVE is a multicultural cross section of human experience as seen through a million eyes. It is an adventure into online sharing culture and a look at how the internet challenges our understanding of truth and reality.
THE INFINITE CAVE is an immersive multimedia art project inspired by the extraordinary similarities between social media and Plato’s Cave. In the Allegory of the Cave, (375 B.C.E.) ancient Greek philosopher Plato compares our understanding of reality to that of prisoners in a cave whose world-view is entirely based upon shadows that form on the cave walls. They are unaware that the shadows are caused by people moving in front of a fire in a different part of the cave, or that there is a whole world outside of the cave. When a prisoner is released, his journey out of the cave reveals the layered nature of truth and reality.
Like the shadows on Plato’s cave wall, the images that we scroll through on our devices are only a small part of the truth. As the internet becomes an omnipresent extension of ourselves, it also becomes the primary medium that informs our world-view. And like Plato’s prisoners, the algorithms that are generated by our online behavior are imprisoning us in an ever-narrowing social-political view of the world.
With the idea of revealing the layered nature of truth and reality, I set out to make a visualization of the internet as an infinite version of Plato’s cave; an infinite cave of partial truths. My goal was to expose the raw edifice of the human condition contained in the enormous amounts of information available on social media globally. To that end, I created a continuous barrage of visual information radiating from a wall of video displays. The individual streams are seductive and engrossing but as a collective whole they form an overview of our planet and examine how we as a species relate to each other and the world around us.
THE INFINITE CAVE has three parts: the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. The work is designed to continuously evolve and change making each viewer’s experience completely unique. The visual elements are accompanied by an ethereal soundscape composed from the electromagnetic radiation emitted from each of the corresponding celestial bodies.
The Sun and Moon are presented on large video displays on either side of the Earth. The Earth is comprised of 162 small displays that are mounted on the wall in the shape of an eye.
The structure of the Earth is based on the four elements (EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER). The elements are arranged in concentric rings reminiscent of a geology diagram that shows a cross section of our planet. The center of the work (the core of the planet) contains videos related to the element FIRE. This is surrounded by imagery related to the element EARTH, which is surrounded by WATER, and the outermost ring features the element AIR.
Overall, the project uses more than half a million video clips sourced from the internet. I sorted the videos into 164 general categories and created themed compilations (film collages) for each category. When seen all together, they form a codex of planet Earth.