Stephen Wolf | Open + Connected

Stephen Wolf




Like on Facebook

Follow on Instagram

Open + Connected

Artist Statement

You fit ... hook eye

You fit into me like a hook through an eye, 2018, archival inkjet, 99" x 48" (253 cm x 123 cm)

Open + Connected

Open + Connected, 2019, archival inkjet, 96" x 48" (244 cm x 122 cm)


Because You Have This Preference, 2018, archival inkjet, 30" x 32.5" (76 cm x 82.5 cm)


The Space Between Dreaming and Living, 2020, archival inkjet, 96" x 48" (244 cm x 122 cm)

R U Content

R U Content, 2020, archival inkjet, 48" x 60" (122 cm x 152 cm)


Enjoy, 2018, archival inkjet, 48" x 60" (122 cm x 152 cm)

Spoils (red margin), 2019, VR experience. Video grab; details.

Machine View

Machine View, 2018, archival inkjet, 96" x 48" (244 cm x 122 cm)

Calm down

Calm down. Breathe. We hear you., 2018, archival inkjet, 40" x 40" (102 cm x 102 cm) on Breathing Color Optica archival paper; also 90" x 90" (228 cm x 228 cm) on 13 oz. polyester vinyl.

Dark Posts I Dark Posts II

Dark Posts (I & II), 2019, video, wood, enamel, thermoplastic; 96" x 80" (244 cm x 203 cm) (I); 24" x 96" (61 cm x 244 cm) (II)


Bicameral, 2019, video projection, 72" x 84" (189 cm x 213 cm)


Quadrille (Don't Look Now), 2019, archival inkjet, 48" x 72" (122 cm x 183 cm)


Click/Wait, 2019, needlepoint (acrylic on polyester mesh), 51" x 9" (130 cm x 23 cm)

Why We Fight

Why We Fight, 2019, archival inkjet, 99" x 48" (253 cm x 123 cm)

About Open + Connected

There is no denying the impact of electronic communications, and particularly social media, on human society and endeavor. Our individual reach and connectedness has expanded exponentially, while the emotional engines of human behavior -- the powerful motivators of hope, fear and ambition -- remain unscathed. Our newly-enhanced ability to touch each other's minds and lives has only heightened both our best and worst tendencies, at least in the digital realm. And, for better or worse, it is in this realm that more and more of us are spending more and more of our lives.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have become the most powerful marketing enterprises ever to have existed, not just by creating useful products, but by growing supremely adept at harvesting a golden egg long prized by marketers: consumers' personal, demographic data.

This is not news. Nor is the notion that the term "marketers" includes not just purveyors of for-profit goods and services, but also social causes, political campaigns and ideologies. However, it's one thing for these so-called Hidden Persuaders to influence our choice of laundry soap. It's quite another when our (persuaded) choices have dire consequences -- for minorities, the disenfranchised, the environment -- that adversely affect millions of lives worldwide.

"Open and connected" is the phrase repeatedly uttered by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in media interviews, employee pep rallies and in congressional hearings. It describes their vision of a world where information is free, and forges ties that bind us in our common humanity. However, despite this lofty and noble ambition, the engine of Facebook is profit. For Facebook, the single product driving its profitability is the personal data of its users, a powerful marketing weapon in the hands of its advertiser clients. But if there is a marketing gun pointed at Facebook users' heads, their own fingers are on the triggers.

As Tom Bissell writes in the NY Times: "A tech company founded on creating human connection is now ripping American society apart and compromising our civic foundation, though not because it has overtly wicked intent. As [early Facebook investor Roger] McNamee elucidates, our 'democracy has been undermined because of design choices.' Choices including the platform's pleasurable, frictionless interface, which encourages users to stay and return. It's no stretch to posit that because human neurotransmitters respond to the platform's iconic use of a certain shade of blue, and spark with dopamine upon receiving a 'like' or 'tag' notification, desperate children are now living in cages and a raving madman occupies the Oval Office."

This project illuminates this phenomenon through images drawn from online and consumer culture, juxtaposed in ways that encourage viewers to question their own complicity in this process. Dense imagery reflects the visceral online experience, wherein users are bombarded with visual and written messages at a rate unprecedented in human history. Picture scale mimics the immersive sensation of device screens that suck energy through our visual cortices and effectively remove us from our physical environs. Scant verbiage and dissonant image pairings encourage the viewer to consider image source, meaning and context.