For six months, the Finnish artist Nastja Säde Rönkkö lived entirely without the internet. Every aspect of her life in London, from navigating the city to working and socializing, was taken off-line. If someone sent her an email, they would get an automatic reply inviting them to either call her, visit her in person, or send a letter.
Over the months, she amassed postcards, love letters, detailed correspondences, and scrawled notes. A collection of these are currently on display as part of an exhibition in London’s Somerset House, 24/7: A Wake-Up Call for our Non-Stop World.
Now that she’s back online, I spoke to Rönkkö over Skype about the “six months without” project, and the mournful nostalgia she uncovered for a slower kind of communication.
OneZero: What did you want to achieve with the project?
Nastja Säde Rönkkö: The starting point was when I realized how young the internet is, and how much it has changed us, our relationships, our society. If it was taken away one day, we couldn’t function, yet it’s only 30 or so years ago when we could be perfectly okay without it. I’d also read quite a lot about the environmental impact of the internet. I wanted to figure out if there was a way to, if not get back to being off-line completely, maybe to be more balanced in our use of the internet.
It’s something we really miss, in a way — that kind of slow communication where you really think about what you say. A letter is almost like a diary. People open up.