Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, many individuals have undoubtedly increased their screen time, devoting hours to social media, news outlets, and streaming services. But, in the face of a deadly virus and insufficient healthcare, many others have spent their time online raising funds to offset their medical expenses. Hosted online by Miami-based gallery Dimensions Variable, Get Well Soon is a digital artwork comprised of 200,000 messages of well wishes from crowdfunding campaigns on the site gofundme.com, presenting these messages alphabetically in a series of scrollable columns across a webpage. Originally created by artists Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain as part of the online exhibition We=Link—organized earlier this year by Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), Art Center Nabi (Seoul), and Rhizome (New York)—Get Well Soon displays how the internet has become, instead of a speculative virtual playground, a dysfunctional quasi-social service.
In 2013, Olafur Eliasson and Ai Wei Wei launched the collaborative project Moon, which allowed anyone with an internet connection to access a digitally constructed model of the moon and leave behind a drawing of their creation. The project was conceived as “a powerful statement about the potential for ideas to connect people across vast distances and break through political, social, and geographical boundaries in the Internet age.” With this spirit, Moon reflects an earlier (perhaps now anachronistic) vision the internet as a place of optimism and imagination. Less than a decade later, Get Well Soon offers a stark contrast, anonymously cataloguing text rather than inviting active collaboration. Stripped of individuating features such as names or campaign titles, this immense list of messages and condolences indicates the profound despondence felt throughout the country—and, at least in some measure, the desire provide help.
Created by Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain, Get Well Soon is available to view on the website of Miami gallery Dimensions Variable.