The Reader

A network based sound installation

The Reader is an installation consisting of a web-crawler that – following links from page to page – keeps moving through the internet. It extracts the contents of HTML-documents it comes across, transforms them into text-files and feeds those into a speech-synthesiser. The synthesised speech is then amplified and diffused via speakers or broadcast via radio. The Reader wanders through the net and recites the texts that it found to the audience.

It goes on to talk and talk and talk.
It progresses following the hyperlinks on the pages it is reading to the public.
It progresses; from one thing to the other, and then to the next.

The main task of The Reader is to battle possibilities, to put things back into order. The void, man tends to find himself in a situation of multiple choices (in that case a labyrinth of hypertextual traps and the never-ending, unforeseeable chaos of the internet), sometimes leaves the human being dazed and confused. In an infinite field of possibilities, he cannot decide what to do, where to go and what to believe.

Faced with the big machines of good and evil, man looses perspective.

The Reader puts things back into order.
The best way to do that is to put things into chronological order.

The net as the field of possible choices turns into linear progression.

To achieve this, decisions of what should precede what need to be taken. The Reader automates this task by following the links on each page, reading out whatever it comes across. The Reader deprives of multiple choices; the choice of direction etc.

But: It frees from the necessity to decide, to use up one’s limited resources of will, of faith. If one thing follows the other and then comes the next, one by one, the whole thing cannot be that bad. (Unclear) one doesn’t need to bother to zoom out; there is no need to go into distance anymore, no need to reflect and choose: The fact of being served outdoes everything else.

The less possible, the firmer reality is.

And: As soon as the original reason for decisions are forgotten, chronology (linearity) turns into causality. The Reader’s decisive actions contribute to a firm and stable world.

So: The Reader does not only enhance reality on a purely aesthetic level, it enhances its recipients’ lives by easing their minds, relieving them of the necessity. To take decisions and – by doing so – wasting faith, which is supplied to everybody in limited stock only.

Commissioned by

Test/Kirklees New Media Centre