Life inside a bubble

The latest interactive media art installation Kupla (Bubble, 2004) by Minna Långström is a meditation on Western communication and its effects on us, Western consumers. Knowledge brings pain when the constant barrage of news items press images of war and death onto our retinas. Långström’s work asks a crucial question: how can we cope with the constant discrepancy between the images we are seeing, the feeling of powerlessness in the face of the events, and our inborn need for a sense of security? Långström has constructed inside the gallery space a nursery, the exaggerated dimensions of which make the spectator assume the viewpoint of a child. The sweet music playing in the nursery, composed by Emi Maeda, consists of an airy combination of digitally treated harp sounds, electronic music and sound effects. Together with the soft pastel colours it lulls the visitor into an atmosphere of safety and security. On the table there is a soap-bubble bottle, in which the visitor is welcome to blow. But what happens then?

The artist relates a story of how she was searching for music from peer-to-peer networks (like Napster) on the Internet and typing in completely innocent search phrases, but instead of finding her favourite tunes she came up with private individuals’ collections of violent news videos. In the era of increasing information overload, she felt information was searching and reaching out for her, instead of the other way around. The images of suffering with their realistic and brutal details often remain distant and unreal: all the bad things happen as if inside a bubble, to someone else, somewhere far away. But the North is protected. Our duty is to build for our children an illusion of a safe world, an illusion we ourselves are also eager to buy into.

Kupla, an interactive installation by Minna Långström, at the MUU Gallery (18-21 November).

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