This is the homepage of the site for W139, an Amsterdam-based exhibition and production space for contemporary art. All the elements sit on a trolley that is wheeled around the space and photographed from above
The installion, known as the WEX machine, looks like this. It photographs itself regulalry through each day. Each new image is then uploaded online and becomes the website’s homepage.
The various elements on the trolley provide some of the functionality of a traditional site: click on the screen on the left and information about the space and its activities can be read.
Users can interact with the printer on the right: choose a file from your desktop and the printer will output it, for real, on the trolley in the gallery. When the site next updates, your image will appear in the pile of pages next to the printer.
The large mirrored ball reflects whatever is on display in the part of the gallery that the trolley has been temporarily parked in.
Here it is during the website-launch performance. And here it is being made
The WEX machine was created by Roel Wouters (one of our Creative Futures from last year) and Erik Borra. “The WEX Machine has two different faces: a physical installation within W139 itself, and virtually on the web,” they explain. “Visitors, whether online or offline, can contribute to both installation and site. Visitors to the site can upload a file and print it on the printer at the installation. If the website is not used for a while via the touch screen it will start playing all by itself, generated by pathways (clicks) chosen by the site’s other online and offline users. By later playing these clicks as a movie, the visitors’ online behaviour is used as user generated and curated content within the installation and website.”
The idea is rooted in American scientist Vannevar Bush’s concept of the memex, the theoretical proto-hypertext computer system he proposed in 1945 which some claim as a conceptual forerunner to the web. Bush saw the memex “as an electromechanical device that an individual could use to read a large self-contained research library, and add or follow associative trails of links and notes created by that individual, or recorded by other researchers”.