Month: August 2015

Research Critique – Jenny Holzer: Please Change Beliefs

This interactive web artwork mainly invites users to modify truisms provided by the artist. When the user clicks on the word change, he is given the main list of truisms from which he can choose any one to modify. His modified version then goes to an alternative list. The topics of these truisms range from love to murder, encapsulating a wide spectrum of comments upon which users are free to change any or all parts of them.

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While there is a slight learning curve on how to navigate the site, I eventually recognized the different parts to it and the links between them. There are essentially 5 main sections to the site: the Truisms, the Inflammatory Essays, the Living, the Survival and the Lament sections. Of these, the truisms, living and survival sections are similar in style, containing just a line or two and the inflammatory essays and lament sections containing passages. The site cycles from truisms to lament sections, switching between sections at seemingly random points. The home page shows a truism, and three words, “Please change beliefs”. Clicking on either of these 3 words will redirect the user to something different. I found that it was not immediately clear that the site will automatically cycles between the sections, and indeed it took me some time to figure out that there were 5 different sections. Each section has its own characteristic, from the layout of the text, the background colour, and sometimes a video is included, such as this: abuse

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Changing the truisms is only one part of the work. If the user clicks on the word ‘BELIEFS’, he is also able to ‘vote’ for which truisms he agrees with, and the results are updated accordingly, showing how many people agree with which truism.

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Looking at the alternative list of truisms generated by the changes made by all the users, I could also see how people used the truisms differently, each edit showing how different people are able to modify the truisms to create their own truisms. In doing so, I realized that they were all communicating anonymously in the ‘virtual space’, providing insights into their own personal beliefs and thoughts. It almost seems like a global, public game of ‘exquisite cadaver’, whereby the truisms are taken apart and put together with new elements, forming a new, unique truism.

In many ways this work serves to illustrate that what is true for someone may not necessarily be as true for someone else. The thought-provoking truisms and passages sometimes seem to form their own narrative, each hyperlink bringing the user into a new direction. I think that if the public’s modified truisms could somehow be incorporated into this cycle, it would enrich the experience for both new and returning members of the virtual public.

Blog Narrative

This is a story about the consequences of a birthday celebration. The guy holding the blue box in the background is the birthday boy, YX. We’d just celebrated his birthday in a typical drinking fashion and this is a photo of the three of us at a carpark at Sentosa at around 2 or 3am (I think). As obscene as this photo may look, the guy with his head on my lap is really just sleeping/drunk/unconscious.


Honestly, I’m not very sure why I was sitting on the floor with him or why his head was on my lap. I don’t remember posing for the photos either. Actually, until I recently revisited this photo, I didn’t remember that it was a birthday celebration.



Here we are again, out of the carpark and somewhere in Sentosa. What I remember is that we stumbled along some path until we came across this huge tent. It was probably set up for some event planned for the next day, but the entrance was open and we went in to lie down.

Once again, I have no recollection of this photo having been taken. However, these photos all somehow appeared in my phone. Hence, I truly appreciate the modern day advantages of having cameras in our pockets wherever we go, to capture these memories that otherwise would forever remain forgotten.


How might the open source system of sharing and collective narrative be a creative inspiration and approach for artists?

For artists, the open source system is one which allows a better mode of communication, a freely available and vast source of inspiration, as well as a platform upon which they may easily share their own works. The scale in which artists are enabled to reach people and fellow artists have already resulted in numerous new creative works, for example, Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz’ “Hole in Space”, which allowed people in New York to see other people in Los Angeles in real-time, and vice versa.

In contemporary times, artists now have access to millions of people’s thoughts, opinions and comments thanks to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These platforms facilitate a shared and often spontaneous collective narrative, each post organised through tags and hashtags. This form of collective narrative can roughly be seen in Douglas Davis’ 1994 “World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence”, where the artist invited the online public to compose a single sentence collaboratively.

The open source system provides the artist with tools to reach out to the public, to invite them to interact and communicate, as well as a huge repository of individuals’ ideas and thoughts from which the artist may draw inspiration from. In this way the open source system could be a creative inspiration and approach for artists.