By: Peggy Nelson
January 25, 2011

The internet exerts an uncanny pull on our attention. Endlessly, we surf. Obsessively, we email. Diligently, we husband our social networks. We speak of internet addiction and worry about fragmented attention spans. But we only log off to long to log back on.

It may not be that there’s anything out there. But that is no impediment to our search.

[In answer to the query, “Is it true the world will end in 2012?”]

We have always imbued the unknown with mystery, and then given that mystery a presence: sometimes in the form of mysterious beings, and sometimes in the form of messages that, once received, would render the mysteries a little less mysterious.

The unknown may extend geographically, or geometrically, to areas as yet unexplored. These we also imbue with mystery: here be dragons, the Abyss, fabled cities of gold. It is my contention that this impulse extends even to areas that are completely man-made, such as the internet: if it’s large enough, it’s a mystery. We bestow a crown of mystery on any thing, space, or idea, that’s just out of reach. We are a mystery to ourselves.

[In answer to the query, “Who filibustered the treaty of Versailles and why?”]

#Scryberspace, my online search oracle, plays with the sense of occult anticipation that we bring to even our everyday computer use. To scry is to search, and to interpret the signs. And to scribe is what much of our online interaction is literally composed of: we write, and write, and write again. We write acronyms, long rants, hyperlinks, emoticons. We code both communication and secrecy. We write to express ourselves and to invent ourselves anew, to conceal, to reason, to seek, and to connect. “John Dee” is us, collectively, filtered through the virtual spaces we have literally written into being.

[In answer to the query, “What am I doing with my life?”]

To interact with #Scryberspace: submit a question via the Tumblr site, Twitter, or your phone; ask for help in your search. John Dee will comb the static and noise, websites and messages, to aid you in your quest. And we will see what the signs might signify.

[In answer to the query, “How should I keep warm?”]


John Dee on Twitter: @scryberspace


#Scryberspace was commissioned for Artistic Mediums II, curated by Andrew Sempere and Mary Lucking. Artistic Mediums II runs from from January 24 to February 25, 2011 at the New Art Center in Newton, Massachusetts.

Opening reception: Friday, January 28, 2011 from 6-8pm.


Art, Codebreaking, Kudos

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.