W3FI at Artisphere Monday, Dec. 10

Note: Artisphere is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Even before email sleuthing by the FBI exposed (in the name of national security) a harmless affair involving ex-CIA director David Petraeus and a large cast of characters, the loss of identity in the face of the Internet, which both enables and eradicates anonymity for all, topped the list of 2012’s anxieties. Between Anonymous’ pursuit of Amanda Todd’s tormenter, the public doxing of Reddit’s most notorious troll, and the elegant online machinery of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, the Internet seemed both more empowering and more monolithic in 2012 than ever before. Enter Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran, artists who peer into the Internet’s dark side for “W3FI,” a show about how the Internet appears to erase the difference between virtual and real. For Coleman and Mehran, who will use the gallery as a platform to gather and display visitors’ data in real time, the Internet appears to be a vice or temptation, one that users can abuse if they don’t know what they’re doing. It may be worse than that, actually—some theorists say that people in a literal sense lose their identities when presented with the possibility of anonymity—but at least in “W3FI,” questioning the Internet comes with a spectacular-looking blinky light show.

The show is on view 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays to Jan. 20 at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. (703) 875-1100. artisphere.com.

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