Truisms over the years


Jenny Holzer’s ‘Please Change Beliefs’ (1995) is an interactive work that is available to the public via the internet. Jenny Holzer has a list of Truisms that she came up with and as the title suggests, the viewer is invited to modify a common truism that they choose.

The viewer first arrives on the homepage that include one of the many truisms Jenny Holzer came up with, and she invites the viewer to click on ‘Please Change Beliefs’ which leads the viewer to the page with the list of Truisms that we can choose from. When we modify the truism, the new ‘truism’ ends up on a separate master list with everyone else’s truisms that they have come up with.

This dramatically alters the act of writing and narrative, from the singular activity of a very personal form of individual expression, to a collective activity that is highly collaborative: all publishable instantaneously to a global audience. -Randall Packer, Open Source Studio (2015)

I think this line from the article is really accurate. The truisms started off with Jenny Holzer’s (or the general public’s) consensus about an issue, which is the individual expression, and is morphed into an activity that many people are able to collaborate and contribute their own opinions and truisms. I love that the work will (theoretically) never end. The work started off in 1995; The people who lived in 1995 would have had different opinions as compared to the people who will live in 2045. It would be interesting to see how the master list of truisms grow and morph into a thing where we’ll be able to see the changes in the way people think over 50 years.


For example, maybe 50 years on, no one will even remember what One Direction is, or what a Barbie is and why it is so controversial. Hopefully all of us will live to see the day arrive, and log on to the website to see it for ourselves.

One thought on “Truisms over the years

  1. I really like your commentary on how the World Longest Collaborative Sentence reflects the changing culture, ideas, and memes that are in the air at any given time. It becomes in that sense a historical record reflecting the crowd-sourced commentary of the many, rather than the few. I think you picked an excellent quote and used it successfully to support your argument. That is precisely the goal of the research critique, to learn to take a reading (research) and use it to support your argument (critique). Excellent!

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