Temporary Highs is an exhibition that brings together artists who are exploring how the structure of the internet enables reward-seeking behavior in a compulsive cycle of (over-)sharing and consumption. Before opening its doors in New York's bitforms gallery, the curator and gallery commissioned us to create a website that extended the show's concept to online, presenting the works and sparking a conversation around temporary highs.
The exhibition’s website — www.temporaryhighs.net — is a continuation of the show’s concept in the form of a pseudo-social network, where users get points for any number of actions including clicking, scrolling, and engaging with the site’s contents.
Amplifying actions and tropes of existing social media networks, the website uses the currency of ‘“love” (versus typical “likes”), inviting users to “post for love” and celebrating those who earn the most via a leaderboard that scrolls across the top of the page at all times. A parallel notifications board scrolls across the bottom, alerting users to their actions and other users on the site in real-time.
The site operates around a few basic principles:
+ Love it all. You get love for clicking, scrolling, touching. Some get you more than others.
+ Post for love. You get the most love on posts and comments, but they’ll cost you.
+ Love always wins. Posts with the most love rise to the top.
The website responds to the outcry of: “I wish I could like this twice!” Now you can. Users can love posts, user names, and anything else on temporaryhighs.net to an endless degree, with each click resulting in an outpour of candy-colored hearts exploding across the screen. The website also allows visitors to love someone else’s love, love the love of that love, entering into a chain of recursive notifications and a flurry of temporary highs.
Like other social platforms, users are encouraged to post via an input field at the top right of the page and comment through a field at the bottom of every post. Unlike other platforms, though, in addition to temporary highs, users are rewarded with points and increased ranking on the site. Moreover, this ranking enables more features to be unlocked: When users earned enough love, they can exchange points for characters or pixels to post.
Starting with the show’s works at its core, Lindsay Howard, curator of the exhibition has posted the works that are included in the exhibition. Over time, the site will (d)evolve into an infinite scroll of everything that’s ever been posted on the site by any user: the visualized results of reward-seeking behavior and a compulsive cycle of sharing and consumption.