The truth is malleable: this is a statement brazenly declared by Jenny Holzer’s work, Please Change Beliefs. In this artwork, Holzer provides a list of truisms on a website, where anyone may access and modify as many truisms as they’d like to. These edited truisms are then permanently added to an online database, creating an extensive list of various versions from various individuals.
That anyone can change these absolute truths is a testament to the power each individual holds, especially in an online world where their words can reach far and wide. Like in the artwork, we all have the freedom to type whatever we like on various mediums like social medias and blogs. Case in point: Trump’s claims that global warming is a scam by the Chinese (which some people apparently do believe).
At the time, it draws attention to the overwhelming nature of innumerable truths floating around the internet. How do we determine what is true and what isn’t, in a space which can be simultaneously trustworthy and untrustworthy? On one end can be proper advice from certified professionals, another, scams by internet trolls, and yet there is no way to distinguish nor ascertain the truth. While Wikipedia is mostly reliable, it’s easy to see why we’re told not to use it when internet vandals often mess it up.
Even in this artwork, we can see the influence of those who don’t take it seriously.
Despite the possibility of being played with, we cannot forget that there will be people who legitimately contribute properly, a reminder that the internet is not all about lies and untrue truths.
Featured image from the Please Change Beliefs online database.