College of New Jersey
Citation: Ault, Chris. “Hot Air.” Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, no. 5, 2008. doi:10.20415/hyp/005.g02
Abstract: Hot Air reimagines a passage from Jeanette Winterson's novel Sexing the Cherry, in which the words spoken by a village's residents rise into the sky like smoke from a fire, eventually requiring cleaners to rise up in balloons and sweep away the stubborn utterances with brooms.
In this case, however, the village has become the web. The road is composed of today's most popular Google search terms. Each building is constructed of the most recent tags from some of the most popular web sites, including The Huffington Post, Perez Hilton, Engadget and YouTube. Actual reader comments from each site rise from the buildings. A cleaner in a balloon attempts to clear the sky, but the comments want to be heard -- they don't always go quietly.
Hot Air checks the sites for new tags and comments every five minutes, providing viewers with a sense of each site's content as well as its current social temperature -- not through the sterile text of a web browser or news reader, but within the frame of a storybook narrative. Like the villagers' words in Winterson's story, the comments on a blog post often take on a life of their own, overshadowing the original content. And any attempt to control or quiet those comments is ultimately ineffective.