Cas Spoelstra // Thumbs Against Missing Out

2016

Cynical prosthetic to cope with the inability to make choices on the internet

The internet contains more video, images and texts then I can ever absorb. The sheer size of the available media is too vast. Whenever I am watching a video or reading a text, this expansive bulk of other content I am not having on my screen makes me uncertain; there are so many choices that certainly there must be a better choice, something more fulfilling to view.

Detail of the thumb section where only a few browsers are active

Thumbs Against Missing Out is a cynical prosthetic that helps me make that choice, or help me overcome a possible mistake of choice.

Overview of both sections of the installation

The installation exists of two parts: an interactive element being a computer where you can browse the internet and of a non-interactive component existing of a touchscreen with numerous silicone thumbs attached.

Whenever a user is surfing the internet, he or she makes choices on to which page to go. When confronted with a page filled with links, and the user decides to click one, that is an action of going to that place as well as the choice of not going to the pages other links would have pointed to: to go somewhere is the choice to not go to other places, it is the same thing.

Detail of the suspended thumbs above the touchscreen

The installation retrieves these non-made choices and sends them to the unreachable non-interactive section, where to a maximum of 24 unmade choices are confronted back to the user. The unclicked links, the paths not followed are rendered in small browser windows, being scrolled by artificial thumbs as a sort of echo of the users' click.

The thumb section installation

What makes this prosthetic cynical is that I have not created a solution to this uncertainty; it has made the matter worse. With multiple pages being shown an exponential increase of choices are now possible, all these browsers displaying different pages contain more choices to (not) make.
It is however also soothing: at least now it is shown what would have been missed. These opposite perceptions create conflict.

The installation pursues this conflict so it can provide grip on the matter of missing out on entertainment and information through exaggerating choice.
Is continuously, endlessly scrolling the only way to soothe my desire of viewing the most entertaining videos and the most informative articles? Or should I overcome this yearning by admitting defeat; I can never reach this perfect page.

Detail of a scrolling thumb
Detail of scrolling thumbs
Detail of scrolling thumbs
Overview of both sections of the installation