Harry Sanderson, Ashiato / 足跡 (2014)

Our notion of attention, long supposed to be the rational, finite means of exchange of Homo Economicus, recently has circulated more like a cryptocurrency. While attention has long been a key factor in the digital economy -- the most profitable technology corporations have become so by garnering it -- attention nevertheless has become yet another crisis-commodity that relies on labour that has begun, to borrow a phrase from Frederic Jameson, 'to price itself out of the system'.

Harry Sanderson is working at this critical juncture, when we feel like we are losing focus, losing some capacity to keep track of, to stay in touch with, things. Meanwhile, things themselves now gather information about us, forming an intelligence that mimics, as far as it is quantifiable, our own. Forget about the NSA and Facebook for a moment-- it's now the smart bin on the pavement that spies on you. 

In this sense, Sanderson's work has an elegiac tone, referencing the dated surveillance methods that have over-saturated the internet, and thus over-determined the subject as User-- the algorithms that scavenge on those relics who have slowly asphyxiated within the filter bubble-- to be stored away forever. Still, we can sift the detritus of the User that cling, here, to the interface: mouseclicks, keywords, IP heatmaps, profile pics, public keys.

Could it be that the slow death of attention is also a death of its liberal conception, of finitude, of economic exchange, and new age holism that has forced attention to this crisis point? Click through your own personal fulfilment centre, through the battery farms of data, through the world where we are reduced to a problem of bandwidth, and start paying attention to the connections, or rather encounters, that remain difficult to reproduce, difficult to aggregate. Or, in a word, difficult to archive.

---Michael Runyan