“Digital Oasis” is an interactive performance that I am currently developing based on research in Estonia. Estonians often view the “home” as an ecosystem, containing many forms of life beyond one’s own, including bugs, "pests" and other "invasive" species that must be coexisted with. “Digital Oasis” applies this framing to our laptops/devices - our entirely anthropocentric "digital" homes. The performance consists of a series of spider robots that occupy a mock-up of a home office and join in an ecosystem with the home office’s computer. Visitors will be invited on to the office set to use the computer. The bugs will intercept and reject attempts to load large images, videos and other files by the computer’s browser, thus offering the visitor a stripped down, glitched Web 1.0 facsimile that peels back the infrastructure of the internet itself.
The robots visually embody the irrational fear projected onto pests by western society because of their “abject” otherness and unknowable agency that persistently defies domestication. In this manner, the bugs represent a decolonization of digital space, revealing the sinews of internet networks while providing a lens to reconsider all our behaviors (online and in person) as a negotiation with other lifeforms. Nonetheless, visitors will be permitted to kick, step on, interfere with or engage with the robot bugs however they please. As the robots’ internal mechanisms degrade and batteries die, I will be on hand to repair them and bring them back to life for two hours, after which I will let all of the bugs die and the performance will end. The bug carcasses will remain for all to see, as a liberation or a deadening of the space depending on one’s perspective.
This project is currently on hold, but a prototype of the spiders is shown below, as well as a diagram of the intended work
© 2023 all rights reserved Mohar Kalra.