What separates the online and offline in our world, and where is that border in ourselves? Are we growing towards an always-online existence, or can we still choose where, when and why to be sometimes-offline?
The White Spots app visualises the digital networks that surround us and takes users on a journey from the ‘hot spots’ to the ‘white spots’. It invites users to take a picture and contribute their offline experience to the newly designed world connectivity map.
White Spots is a collaborative transmedia project by artist Jacqueline Hassink, information designer Richard Vijgen and documentary filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak. The exhibition brings together the large-format (analogue) prints by Jacqueline Hassink, extracts from the documentary film by Bregtje van der Haak and the app and data visualisations by Richard Vijgen. The narrative on multiple platforms aims to engage viewers and challenge them to think and talk about the consequences of universal connectivity.
White Spots is a multimedia project combining the work of documentary filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak, visual artist Jacqueline Hassink and information designer Richard Vijgen.
In its setup, the exhibition consciously distinguishes between two separate ‘worlds’: the offline world inside the cage, and the online, always-connected world outside the cage. Paradox is currently developing the exhibition, the launch of which is planned around autumn 2017.
The exhibition is built up using a number of components, amongst which a Faraday cage that houses the exhibition of Hassink’s Unwired Landscapes, a number of virtual reality setups, video fragments on television monitors, projection screens suspended from the ceiling, cell phone data visualisations, and an electromagnetic wave gadget shop.
Various bodies of work generated by the three authors will be included in the exhibition. Richard Vijgen is responsible for designing the White Spots app and data visualisations. Bregtje van der Haak is the director of two television episodes and one feature length documentary. Jacqueline Hassink has worked on two bodies of photographic work. Her Unwired Landscapes are photographs of locations that are not yet connected to mobile phone reception or WiFi, as well as areas deliberately cut off from internet access, such as digital detox hotel rooms. The Unwired Landscapes represent the physical, disconnected side of White Spots. Additionally, underlining our continuous interconnectedness, Hassink used her iPhone in a series called iPortrait to portray subway passengers in Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, London and New York, all engrossed in their little screens.
The White Spots exhibition trailer provides a great impression of what it could look like.
Like the exhibition and feature length documentary, the autumn of 2017 promises the release of another White Spots production: the book. It will focus on Jacqueline Hassink’s Unwired Landscapes photography series. Irma Boom has committed herself to the project as its book designer, and publisher Hatje Cantz Verlag has committed to publishing it. Other partners include the Mondriaan Fonds, Benrubi Gallery / New York, Wouter van Leeuwen Galerie / Amsterdam, Kaune, Contemporary / Köln, Bildhalle / Zürich. It offers another possibility to regenerate attention for the app and the exhibition, the latter of which will unite all of the White Spots elements in one dynamic presentation.
Are you ever overwhelmed with a desire to escape from the unstoppable information stream? The White Spots app is a tool that makes people aware of the electromagnetic cloud we live in, and offers narratives about the increasing density of the digital world.
The app makes visible information networks in our direct surroundings, using a special scanner that uses GPS data to guide the user to the edges of the internet, from any location on earth. When the traveller arrives at a White Spot (a white spot on the map, with no access to internet or mobile reach), the app shuts down.
Besides facilitating the physical journey to disconnected places through a route planner, the White Spots app offers a collection of narrative fragments from the offline world. In VR, photographs, audio and film scenes, the makers relocate attention from Hot Spots to White Spots, while they report from the edges of the internet. They want to increase attention for those places that are not (yet) connected to the digital map by visualising, sensitising and discussing them. Where is the separation between the online and the offline world in this planet, and where does the separation lie in ourselves? Users can add their own observations to the app.
The app has the following functions:
• a world map of the online world (based on telecom data)
• a network scanner that visualises cellphone towers and their radiation in the user’s direct environment
• a route planner that guides the user physically to the nearest White Spot
• a collection of stories (virtual reality, film scenes, interviews, photographs, sounds) from the offline world
• option to participate: add your own stories (photographs, video, text, audio) to the interactive map
The White Spots app, designed by Richard Vijgen, is now available for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Bregtje van der Haak has directed two television documentaries for VPRO Backlight (Tegenlicht): Access to Africa and Offline is the New Luxury. They were broadcasted respectively in June 2014 and May 2016. In addition to these documentaries, in cooperation with Barbara Truyen at the documentary department at VPRO, Bregtje will direct a feature length documentary film on radiation illness. Its working title is Digital Refugees. The film will be produced by BALDR Film, and it will feature the visualisations made by Richard Vijgen for the White Spots app. Its release is scheduled for the autumn of 2017.
In the media
Go, with the app at your disposal, while you still can. Or leave all your devices at home - it is theoretically possible.