Originally read in longer version at #rank in Miami, FL, December 2010, as a part of a larger organized event.

The Interview: In Which I Ask Myself All The Questions Nobody Ever Asked
(a.k.a. The Anthropological Experience of the Artist)
Script by Maritza Ruiz-Kim

 

Q: Thank you for taking time to answer my questions.

A: Sure.

Q: What was the process of making your piece “Artifact from an Anthropological Experience”?

A: Okay, well- I followed over 300 twitter accounts at the time I made it (not including corporate accounts) and I was looking for a universal human story in what I was reading.

Q: Did you use everything you sorted?

A: I used 2-3 tweets from every account. So I have a cross section of everything, but I didn’t actually want everything. So I culled the ones I didn’t want & hid them under the ones I liked.

Q: So you ranked them according to made up criteria?

A: Yeah. I had a category called “Things to hide” and another was “Really really don’t want.” Also there were categories called “Mornings” “Philosophical” “Female.”  “Funny”- stuff like that.

Q: Wouldn’t it have been more accurate if you showed everything that you had instead of hiding some?

A: If I didn’t arrange the information, it wouldn’t be legible, it wouldn’t make any sense. And I enjoyed curating the tweets to tell the essential story, so that the remaining content was the conclusion, and the process became the plot.

Q: Using other peoples content to tell your own story?

A: Yup.

Q: And you only used tweets from accounts you followed at the time?

A: Right, so if I didn’t follow someone at that time, they didn’t exist to me. In fact, if no one follows a person, they exist to no one.

Q: How did you choose those particular accounts in the first place?

A: I looked at who other people followed, then I followed them too. The more people mirror the discriminating choices others make, the more a kind of Groupthink happens.

Q: Everyone can see who people follow?

A: When you follow someone, yes, it’s public; but there is a way to make private lists & put people on them without actually following them. You can still see their content without letting others (or even that person) know that you are paying attention.

Q: Is that bad?

A: Depends- it’s bad for the one who wants to know they’re being heard, but the one using these private lists finds them useful of course.  Maybe there’s a reason not to be public about it.

Q: Do people sort all over Twitter like this?

A: It’s a social media thing, but it’s something people have always done- Social Media just forces it to be conscious, & it creates a record of what’s happening.

Q: Is there any fallout?

A: Well, rejection has to be processed & evaluated.

Q: Do people care?

A:  Care? It happens. Yes & No. That’s life. But, acting like it’s nothing takes away from the humanness of it.

Q: Isn’t this whining?

A: It’s human. Human whining.

Q: Why should anyone care?

A: Most people do say “Who cares!” But if we all decide not to care, doesn’t it remove some of what makes social media great? We are not machines.

Q: So these feelings add to our humanity?

A: Exactly. That’s what I’m saying.

Q: Are we just talking about Twitter? Or is there more?

A: Of course there’s more. Think about all the places, all the ways we are sorted. We care how we are sorted when we don’t have any say. We don’t want to be put here when we deserve to be there.

Q: So who decides?

A: It’s never our call to decide where people put us. We can say something about it. But it doesn’t always work, nor in some cases, should it. Is it self-interest to seek the place we think we deserve or are we serving some greater good? We may feel we have a legitimate right to be in a certain place, but other factors are often at work.

Q: You seem a little dramatic.

A: No. People wanna say sorting’s not a big deal, and just move on! But sometimes it’s a very big deal. Especially if its happening to you for the wrong reasons. It’s rare for someone who is sorted out to say it was right. What’s right is to ask that the sorting criteria are examined.

Q: Why are we talking about this?

A: I want humanity in this. We all evaluate & sort people. There are consequences. Yet, it’s necessary to organize the mass of content that’s out there.

Q: So is it good when people get classified and processed by a set of criteria?

A: It’s Sociology. Anthropology.

Q: So you’re saying it’s benign?

A: Well, examine the preferences! Are they based on assumptions, perceptions, or fears of what people think? Or is it about race, gender, religion, socio-economics…

Q: The list could go on.

A: Of course. Or maybe you did something unforgiveable or, they just don’t like you. Fair enough?

Q: So, when it’s bad or wrong, is it obvious?

A: It’s obvious if you’re being kept out. Especially if you think you belong IN. Gatekeepers curate the experience, they don’t always think about why they do what they do, nor do they want to when they’ve made a mistake. One question is, why do you want to be there?

Q: So just accept it?

A: I didn’t say that. People have to figure out what to do. Conflicts happen when values aren’t agreed upon. When people don’t get in who should, or people who don’t deserve to get in, do, it’s just wrong. If you see a system getting out of control, are you supposed to pretend it’s not? I want us to be human.

Q: We were talking about how people interact online, right?

A: How people interact. How our humanity is documented, displayed. What we do with it.

Q: So what now?

A: We’re having a conversation. Can I make anyone listen? Maybe I’m a momentary distraction. Maybe I never even accomplish that.

Q: Do you have a preoccupation with being heard? Being known?

A: It’s so small to see it that way. I want things examined. What happens. Why. I want people to see. It’s not possible for people to let everyone into their world. It’s just not. We sort each other. So, everyone has to figure out how to make it work in the best way.

Q: Everyone?

A: People who are in, people who want in. At different times, we play each role. Who ever wants to change a status quo that’s working? People need a good reason.

Q: So what do you really want?

A: I want answers. I’ve said it before…I’m exploring what it means to be human these days. I am here, you are there, and what’s in-between?

Q: Thank you for talking to me today.

A: You’re welcome. Anytime.

 

The Interview: In Which I Ask Myself All The Questions Nobody Ever Asked | 2010 | Blog Posts