What's the Net Listening to?



©Michael Baun www.flickr.com/photos/micbaun/1240074809

Winner in the Web-Applications Category

The Nine Billion Names of God

by Yashas Shetty

The internet abounds with porn videos. What do these clips have to do with god and spirituality? “The Nine Billion Names of God” is a program that filters porn files on the internet based on the exclamation “god”. The program turns these “desires” and “prayers” into mp3 files; it will automatically end once it has collected nine billion “calls to god”.

The artist links the incredible excesses of the porn industry on the internet with spiritual questions and references Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Nine Billion Names of God”. In the story, Tibetan monks seek to find out all the names of God with the intention of bringing about the longed-for end of the world.

Three hundred years ago, monks developed an alphabet through which, according to their calculations, all of the possible names of God (around nine billion), could be revealed. The monks would need another 15,000 years to write down all of the names they found. Here is where Yashas Shetty’s project picks up the task and lightens the monks’ workload.



The artist Yashas Shetty (1978) lives and works in Bangalore, India, and works with media art, design, and technology. Shetty has been Artist in Residence at a number of art academies and is one of the founding members and current teachers of the Centre for Experimental Media Arts of the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

Since 2007, Shetty has initiated numerous workshops, either independently or in collaboration with the Hackteria collective, including at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology (2010) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States (2009).

Yashas Shetty received the Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship as well as recognition in the “Hybrid Arts” category at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria (2011 and 2012).

For three months, he was a Fellow of the art, science & business program at Akademie Schloss Solitude in the field of Exact Sciences (2016).