afk (away from keyboard) (2016)

Won Highly Commended at EMERGING 2017, Gosford Regional Gallery Australia (2017)

Exhibited as part of The Sydney College of the Arts Degree Show (2016)

Exhibited as part of The Cube, Curated by Mikaela Stafford, Oxford Art Factory (2017)

afk (away from keyboard) is a web installation which explores the evolution of online linguistics, coming of age and digital archiving. The text in the coded pop-up windows have been sourced from the artist’s early chat logs from Microsoft Messenger (MSN). 

This communication platform has now expired preventing many users trying to search for their old conversations. Here, Formby is questioning archiving in the digital age: are our chat logs worth saving? 


Although the selected text is argued as “outdated” (c.2009), it includes the universal themes of social rules, power structures, textual evidence, insecurities and how they translate within an online setting. Once online, we are given the ability to reveal non formalised versions of ourselves, adopt personas and/or communicate freely. 

Formby is encouraging her audience to read over the shoulders of the performers, which grants access to private worlds while simultaneously maintaining limitations.