Your Destination

Your Destination

Max Hawkins, 2015
Receipt printer, custom software

My Netflix queue is filled with French New Wave classics but the Katy Perry movie changed my life. The statistical models that increasingly govern our lives expertly predict how we choose to spend our attention. However, they forget that we often have no idea what we truly want.

The filter bubble imitates our desires to protect us from the anxiety of overwhelming choice. However in a world of near-infinite information where uncountably many expressions of profundity sit at the end of the long tail, even the most well-read cultural observer has embarrassingly pedestrian taste. If we truly want to comprehend the power of the internet we need to move beyond the confining demand for relevance to human preferences.

This work, titled Your Destination, is part of a series of activity generators that explore this alternate strategy for dealing with information overload. When the attendee presses a button, a computer selects one location from a list of thousands nearby. An attached printer makes a take-away receipt with this destination and a set of rules about what to do once there.

The second half of the work exists outside the gallery as a distributed performance. When attendees arrive at their destinations they are asked to find personal meaning in the computer’s selection. The destination is “chosen just for you,” mirroring the subtextual promise of recommendation algorithms to understand our desires better than we do ourselves. Simultaneously and paradoxically, the destination is chosen entirely at random, pointing to the role of serendipity and suggestion rather than relevance as the source of true significance.