The Virtual State of Jefferson
The Virtual State of Jefferson (above) by Ethan Miller and myself is being included in an upcoming show at Southern Oregon University's Schneider Museum of Art.
The State of Jefferson is a proposed 51st state that would be carved out of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Many residents of this region feel alienated from the rest of their state and see the movement either as a tongue-in-cheek protest or a serious libertarian movement towards self-determination.
The Virtual State of Jefferson is a wireless router. Laptops, iPhones, and Blackberries can connect to the internet through the router and browse the web. Whenever a webpage displays the address of a town that is in the proposed borders of the State of Jefferson, the router changes the state name to be "Jefferson." In this manner, the "City of Ashland, Oregon" website automatically becomes the "City of Ashland, Jefferson."
The Virtual State of Jefferson explores how the internet has become one of our primary windows for viewing the world and how the realities it presents can be authoritative, fictive, self-deluding, and enlightening.
Here is an example of how the router changes the web pages it servers. Immediately below is the results typically given when searching for "ashland, oregon" on Google.