1/24/2023Courtesy of the artist.
Alice Tirard, Show Me Something That Isn’t for Me (2020), still.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Bunker Projects or its members.
I often feel guilty for loving things which, by all accounts, serve no purpose: broken knicknacks, getting lost, wikipedia articles about insignificant topics, old grocery lists, wasted time. In this piece on ‘useless’ online things I listed personal blogs, niche archives, tagging errors, glitches, and amateur artworks.
My experience of uselessness serves as a reminder that I am surrounded by independent others who can affect and surprise me. A child’s craft project and the grass on the side of a highway are proof of a world that exists without any knowledge of me or my desires. If my environment did nothing but serve me, I’m afraid I might forget where I start and where I end.
I take particular offense to the idea that useless things don’t deserve to exist. My compulsion to be productive seems anxious, as if any moment spent not working towards my goals were not just wasted but dangerous.
As our online spaces become places to live, I hope they will retain some genuine pointlessness and not swap out travel with teleportation for the sake of efficiency. When I walk around online I want to see it full of happenstance, glittering with pebbles and candy wrappers, and getting in the way of my goals.
Alice Tirard is a strange combination of biologist and visual artist. After two years as a research associate in a Boston cancer lab, they’ve recently moved into science communication at a viral therapy company. Their goal is to investigate how good design, especially online, can democratize access to health information, and bridge the gap between scientific communities and the public. Their other passions include working at sea, and they hope to return to the fisheries in Sitka AK next summer.