Be Right Back, an installation adapted to each individual space, consists of as many as 3,000 4 x 6 inch snapshots taken when web cameras were left on in empty rooms. Be Right Back, commonly abbreviated in chat rooms as BRB, embodies both online anonymity and the unique characteristics of individual spaces within vast online communities. The eye responds to Be Right Back as though it were navigating web pages, ricocheting through hundreds of images before resting on shapes, colors and subject matter of interest. In the process, the empty rooms imply the intimate pursuits, associations and social patterns of their occupants. The architectural scale of Be Right Back also connects the installation to its source – actual rooms from around the world incorporated into a single space.
Be Right Back investigates the nature of video chat (a form of social networking), as well as the range of people involved in this manner of communication, by alluding to the immensity of the Internet itself through an information overload of images. Personal and private space merge in social media as people become evermore comfortable with sharing personal information, images and thoughts in public forums. Be Right Back underscores the myriad of distinct personalities and values on public display in empty chat rooms and, although initially overwhelming, the uniqueness of each room emerges after acclimating to the installation. Ultimately, issues around private and public online spaces are raised as the personality embodied by each room emerges through the absence of its occupant.