By Tom Wachunas
“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and may not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” - Genesis 11:4
“…Come, make us gods who will go before us…” - Exodus 32:1
#goldencalf? is the fourth piece in my series of altered -or altared - computer servers. This “found sculpture” is more of a 3D painting than the previous three (Deus ex Machina nos. 1, 2, and 3).
I’m fascinated by the common use of the term tower in reference to these computer devices. It brings to mind the astonishing, indeed towering capabilities, the ubiquitous, ever-growing impacts of digital technology on living in this world.
Think for a moment on the Genesis account known of the Tower of Babel. A hopelessly proud and self-possessed people set out to construct a ziggurat. It was intended to be a spiraled stairway to the clouds, a man-made mountain topped by a temple to an invented god. And more, it was a shrine to their own ingenuity and bloated ambition, an emboldened declaration of human autonomy and sovereignty over all creation.
Or think about the Exodus account of The Golden Calf – a manmade proxy for God. An idol for worship.
I see #goldencalf? as a cautionary tale of ensnarement. It’s a gilt (or even guilt) inquiry. Have we made a god of our digital technology? Is our willful dependence on it - our eager embrace of its programs, protocols and procedures, its scrupulous rules and rituals – in effect a form of adoration? Of worship? Of religion? Navigating a sea of algorithms, can my desktop ziggurat be my stairway to heaven?
Wait! I know…I’ll just Google it.