The artist Alicia Eggert originally tried to employ an old Macbook she already owned in her piece "Present Perfect," "but it kept crashing," she says.
Eggert eventually purchased a more reliable MacBook Air on eBay. A rock sits atop it, pressing the computer's "Y" key. Endlessly. Into a Microsoft Word document.
Why, you ask? The computer was chosen for its sleekness; the rock, found outside Eggert's studio in Maine (she's a professor at Bowdoin College) was picked primarily for its size. "It's just the first rock I came across after thinking 'I need a rock," she says. The computer program, meantime, is part of this piece because it's so thoroughly vexing.
"Most people have probably spent hours using Microsoft Word to write things that are supposed to be important, like papers for college or meeting minutes for work, but that we usually couldn't care less about and, in retrospect, were probably a total waste of our time," says Eggert.
The Washington City Paper's art critic Kriston Capps wasn't so impressed with "Present Perfect," which can be seen at Artisphere in Northern Virginia through Feb. 2:
“Present Perfect” is a witty piece, no question, a sculpture that’s ready for the art-fair floor. It’s a work by Alicia Eggert that consists of a MacBook Air, a copy of Microsoft Word, and a rock. The rock is sitting on top of the keyboard, depressing the letter Y, which repeats endlessly, page after scrolling page, a computer’s plaintive yowl. It’s easy to feel confident about “Present Perfect” because this formula has worked before: In 2008, for a piece called “g,” the British artist Jack Strange dropped a lead ball onto the G key of an iBook.
Eggert sees the piece as being deeply personal, though, while also expressing something universal.
"It's like the computer is asking the question 'Why?' over and over again, questioning its own existence, or wondering why that rock fell on it," she says, "like 'Why me?'. I think that's something we can all relate to."