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Marc Horowitz: A Recommendation

December 9, 2010
Marc Horowitz

Marc Horowitz's Internet-fueled adventures give an interesting take on openness and connectedness in modern society.

Being on winter break means I am on the computer more. A lot more. And not in the sense that I’m on the computer normally, where I’m editing stories or staring blankly at a screen as I try to comprehend something, but in the sense that I have nothing to do and spend time digging up stories that I normally wouldn’t bother with. That kind of tedium leads to a gem every so often, and Marc Horowitz is the most recent of those.

Horowitz is an explorer in the most modern sense of the word, investigating the way society will be willing to interact with him and he with it. Some of Horowitz’s recent projects have included the Google Maps Road Trip, where he and a friend who lives across the country broadcast a virtual road trip; The National Dinner Tour, where Horowitz went around the country eating dinner with random people; and The Advice of Strangers, where the Internet told Horowitz what decisions to make.

These projects all have a common theme and set of questions — how can we use the Internet to connect with each other? Just as importantly, they openly wonder how willing we are to engage total strangers in an age of overwhelming connectedness.

Part of Horowitz’s point may be that the Internet has helped create a society of voyeurs, a crowd of people willing to watch a complete stranger for three months just because he’s livecasting his life. It doesn’t matter if they know him or not, but he’s there and he’s giving the (maddening?) crowd more about himself than they’re getting from the swirling distractedness around them.

Horowitz’s questions are important, but, just as vitally, they are also interesting. In an age where content filled with philosophical questions and over-everyone’s-head musings is released on a daily basis, Horowitz seems to have taken a different approach. Instead of actively trying to make his work important, he seems to be saying, “What would be fun?” and then actually doing whatever it is, whether it involves giving advice to strangers on a mountainside in California or sitting in a chair for nine days while he and a friend take a virtual road trip.

Maybe that’s what Horowitz’s work is (intentionally or unintentionally) getting at: In a day and age where we believe that whatever we’re working on at a given moment is the most important thing and the rest of the world will suddenly stop functioning if we don’t finish and finish well, he is stressing that sometimes it’s more important to step outside of ourselves and our hectic little bubbles and do something fun. The point of the entire exercise, and maybe of Horowitz as a whole, is that doing something that matters doesn’t necessarily mean doing something that’s important.

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