Networked Life

“Gribble’s artwork is a perspectival portrait. It reaches the smallest and largest levels of connectedness in cells, nebulas and everything in between. The awareness and presence of connections that come out of her art highlights this enrichment through the expansion of social media, cyberspace and space itself.”

— Tessa Granowski, Daily Trojan

Networked Life is a 365-day art project featuring hundreds of networks. A network is defined in structural terms as an arrangement of intersecting lines but also as populations of people and things, including transportation systems, social interactions, broadcasting stations as well as interlinked machines, operations, and electrical conductors. A network is defined in multiple frameworks, but in all cases, a network references a series of relationships between multiple parts. These infinite relationships became the primary focus of Networked Life to illustrate how networks design life. This exploration in terms of individual and collective experiences suggests that meaning can be determined by the sum of its parts.

This 365-day project emerged from the artist’s initial interest in pattern recognition, and evolved into a participatory project activating social and technological networks. The project’s original platform was online, housed on a Facebook page to engage a social network to view a daily network. Messages, links, and images of networks began trickling into the Facebook inbox as friends shared related content to inspire new works. Participation became an integral part of this online project as followers anticipated the next daily post.

As a real-life response to this virtual project, the artist allowed guests to sift through piles of drawings, paintings, prints, and photographs of networks and move them in new combinations to discover visual relationships. The links between the artworks revealed common patterns across diverse subject matter: a firework mimicked a social media map of Facebook friends; a circuit board looked like a farmland from an aerial view; a snowflake looked like an organization chart for a business; a tree branch resembled the human vascular system. It was in these relationships that the project began to hint at something deeper. The networks that form us and connect us derive from the same place—a fundamental and ubiquitous design of life.

Networks exist to achieve feats that are greater than the act of one solitary part. Each artwork hints at innumerable relationships both within the image itself, and outside its surrounding artworks. To further articulate the ways all things interact, it was important that viewers of the artwork experienced the sensation of discovering innumerable relationships themselves. After completing 365 artworks, the works were framed and mounted with velcro, to form a grid of interchangeable parts. When displayed, the public had a unique opportunity to organize a network of networks. This installation also manifested as an interactive computer game. Viewers selected and moved about 365 images to form order and create emergent visual results. The mosaic-like assembly formed during the game was then sharable on all social media platforms.

The results of Networked Life were astonishing. What started as an online project to entertain Facebook friends evolved into a large-scale interactive installation and then a computer game. Participants became an integral part of the work, as collaboration and connection were required to illuminate the power of networks. These various installations revealed that when we are able to recognize the networks at play within us and around us, we are more capable of acknowledging our own role within a networked society. We discover in Networked Life what we are truly capable of.

“Each day, I made an image that related to an experience, event, idea, word or image of a network that correlated to my daily experience.”

— Richelle Gribble, Daily Trojan

“My Facebook followers sent me content (ideas, articles, images or words) that related to networks so they could influence my artwork for that daily post.”

— Richelle Gribble, Daily Trojan

“I tracked the interactions of each image as well as received viewer participation online. This process served as a way for me to interact with the Internet, one of the largest networks today, and my own social network to elaborate and enrich ideas of network systems.”

— Richelle Gribble, Daily Trojan