An art project forces people to consider online recommendations in the real world

What do online recommendations mean for our decisions in the real world?

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You’ve seen them on or places like Facebook: “helpful” recommendations for other, similar products, games, or even content that you might like, based on your internet history. According to two artists, the algorithms that make these recommendations rule the internet, and with a new project called Signs of the Times, they aim to get people to think about their impact.

London-based artists Scott Kelly and Ben Polkinghorne installed a series of obtrusive banners in picturesque locations around New Zealand that point to other picturesque locations that vistors might also like, “to make the point about how omnipresent these ads are on the internet.”

Kelly and Polkinghorne told The Verge in an e-mail that there was no particular moment online that sparked the project, but that as internet users, they had begun to notice how prevalent they had become. The pair came up with the project while they back at home in New Zealand for their summer break earlier this year. After working with a sign maker in Auckland, they installed the signs themselves, selecting a variety of public locations around the country.

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