Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Room of Lost Chatter

You enter a room. It is dark. The darkness begs for the kind of silence that can be found in libraries. There is some light. Lights are placed under the tables making lengthy shadows along the linoleum where the chair legs hover like spiders alighting on the earth. The rest of the light is from the computer screens. Each screen is different. Each screen has been carefully chosen to replicate the one owned by the person who has died.

It is difficult to read the plaques that have been attached to each of the tables. You must bend your head and peer into the grainy light from the screens and your own legs become spidery and shadow their way up the wall behind you. You feel the hair lift up on your neck. You feel all the laughter sighed out from your chest. There is a tightness there now. You sense their deaths and you are silenced by them. Their deaths are spelled out on the little plaques. Their names, their ages, how they died. They are young, most of them. There are a disproportionately high number of suicides. There is a murder. There are accidents, some involving motorcycles, others referencing other types of motor vehicles. There is cancer, and other long and protracted illnesses. Each story ends the same way.

You turn from the plaque to the computer screen. It is wrong to be looking as you do at the final days of someone you did not know, but you look anyway. We humans are curious creatures. It makes you shift uncomfortably in the hard-backed chairs. You feel your neck tighten. There is a sob somewhere inside you but you fight against it and you feel a headache growing. Myspace, Facebook. You are looking at the pages of the dead, the final posts, the final interractions. You read flippant asides and dates made for a future that will not be shared. 'I'm off to tackle the mountain' suggests a man who came off the mountain and died at the base of it. 'I love you always and forever' says another man who turned away from his computer and took his own life.

There are the messages too, the words that reach out beyond the world of the living. Go well my friend, they say, look out for me, I miss you.

Without a password, the families are unable to curb the life of a social network that has been abandoned. Death is not the end for someones Facebook page. The messages continue to surface, days, months, years after the event.

She has gathered them. She has presented them. She has negotiated with the families and made this space that is as quiet as a mauseleum. She has made us think about the ones that have been left behind, the people that have died. She makes us weep for them, this artist, this collector. And so, in silence, we move from chair to chair inside the museum of deceased social networks and when we emerge into the light we are a little sadened, a little moved. We blink. We adjust. We continue on.


the wordy gecko said...

Very moving, Krissy. Fine writing, it has an impact.

Zen Quill said...

Hi Krissy,
This had hold of me right from the start - haunting and very moving. Loved it.