Like Pearls by Morehshin Allahyari is an animated and interactive mash-up of the Farsi spam Allahyari receives in her mailbox.
Digital data has a paradoxical status. Immaterial by definition, it nonetheless has a need for a physical substance (hardware) to manifest itself. Eternal and not subject to decay, it is forced to bond its life to the hosting support, inheriting fragility and a tendency to degenerate. Furthermore, data legibility is
continuously put at risk by the growing obsolescence of machines and software. This complex relationship between matter and code has fascinated artists since the sixties, when conceptualists spotted in the developing computer languages a possible metaphor for art itself (materials as hardware and ideas as software), as well as a new platform for experimenting with processuality in art. Zach Gage, an artist and programmer based in New York City, gathered these suggestions and reworked them in a project named Temporary.cc, a website that incorporates an auto-deleting system. He writes: “data on the Internet has a seemingly infinite shelf-life. Between search-engine caching, cloud-hosting, re-blogging, plagiarising, and the way-back machine, the net collects and eternally stores vast amounts of information. Temporary.cc eschews this paradigm”. The website doesn’t preserve its own content but, on the contrary, acts as a de-generative machine that will eventually lead to its total disappearance: a blank page. The task is left to the users, who participate in the deleting process simply by visiting the website. For each unique visitor it receives, Temporary.cc deletes part of itself. The interaction with the work determines its gradual vanishing and, at the same time, gives each viewer a different version of the webpage because every new access produces “a new composition through self-destruction”.