Misdirection as Mass Deception
Like the magician performing sleight-of-hand to deceive and misdirect the eye, those in power tell us where to look and what to think. The mass media provides the stage where the deception unfolds focusing public attention with emotion and fear. Having been in lower Manhattan on September 11th 2001, I experienced first hand the collision of terrorism and warfare into spectacle, magnified by our network connected screens. The media showed images of the planes impact and the buildings collapse in a repetitive loop. Screens became weapons of terror, the system of representation was hijacked and we were forced to relive those terrifying moments by viewing images presented as a never ending present. In 2003, as the United States invaded Iraq, I began to notice how the media presented images that contributed to fear and consensus, and as the images disappeared from view, I wondered what became of these digital leftovers.
These events and ideas were the catalyst for the Cruft series which are auto-generative works that appropriate images from web sites. The hacker term "cruft" refers to unpleasant substances, superfluous junk, and redundant or superseded code. I make Cruft by writing automated computer software that scrapes the web using algorithms that remix mainstream media images from sites such as CNN in a process that mimics the 24/7 media news cycle.