Sorry—that’s the screen saver


At a Pittsburgh gallery in 2006, artist Keny Marshall exhibited 3D Pipes, an elaborate, freestanding installation of aged metal plumbing. “Everybody’s got 3D Pipes on their computer,” said Marshall in an interview. “The only difference is this 3D Pipes took months to build and weighs three to four thousand pounds.” Oddly inconspicuous, mistakable for exposed utilities in the gallery’s warehouse-like space, this life-size, patina’d tribute to the PC’s workhorse screen saver of the 1990s and early 2000s spoke of our culture’s recent yearnings for industrially or intimately material work, Dirty Jobs adventurism or an Etsy sort of DIY. Yet perhaps more pervasively than any other 2D commonplace of its time, the virtual 3D Pipes—and the screen saver as a genre—had woven its own frenetic, filigreed dreamwork about work. On when we’re off, screen savers are both hallucinatory napscapes and work-site facades. Though customizable, like icons and wallpapers, and comparable to other cubicle brighteners (potted plants, fluorescent stickies), they possess a distinct poetics. As boxed, watchable decor, where a fireplace or window might once have sufficed, they tend to emulate the mesmeric morphing and gelatinous luminosity of fish tanks, lava lamps, self-tilting wave tanks.

more from Chinnie Ding at The Believer here.