SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE
“Shiny Happy People” is a direct reaction to the everyday experience of digital media and information overload.
We sit hooded at two laptop computers, each projecting fresh desktop spaces that overlap on a wall. Using a cache of audio/video clips downloaded from the internet (some deliberate, others random), we open files one at a time in default (Quicktime) media player windows, adjusting the size and placement of each window in relation to both of our previous selections. From here, we allow two types of physical manipulation: 1) rapid, back-and-forth touchpad pressure movements that scramble the linear advance of the clip’s position in the timeline, and 2) repeated keyboard shortcuts that loop, reverse or isolate certain portions of the clip. Eventually both of our desktop spaces are filled with overlapping media player windows. After roughly thirty or forty windows, each computer’s active memory begins demonstrating difficulty sustaining the data load: our cursor movement begins to slow and the clips glitch or stop entirely. At this point, we begin closing windows one by one—maintaining the same physical manipulations—until the last window is closed and the performance is complete.
R.A.M.’s frantic, finger-based improvisational technique exaggerates (barely) the universal daily use of the computer keyboard and touchpad. The spectacle and cacophony unleashed throughout “Shiny Happy People” violently challenges the traditional temporal and spatial authority of the source media, ultimately demonstrating physical restraint out of respect for the communicating machine.