Contemporary human beings generate enormous amounts of digital data, constantly, in conscious or unconscious ways.
What do we really know, understand or perceive of all of the ways in which we generate data? How do algorithms classify, evaluate and understand us, our identities, emotions, cultures? At what extent can we access and use the information, knowledge and data we produce?
In Persona Non Data the existing CCTV cameras infrastructure of an entire location is used to critically and playfully explore these questions and possibilies, by transforming the captured data into a real-time, interactive, usable open data source.
By accessing the installation, people can interact with the data they produce, express themselves about how they whant their data to be used, learn how to use and interpret it.
“Persona Non Data explores how cultural institutions can become large-scale data generators. Our open and accessible ecosystem invites people to take up new modes of creative agency in processes of ubiquitous datafication, and critically expose how algorithms understand and classify us.”
We can create new frames in which people can not olnly interact with data or access it, but have a say about how their data are used: with Persona non Data we wanted to experiment in this direction.”
Artists Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico and Dr. Mark Coté of King’s College London will discuss the concepts, implications and possibilities of the Persona non Data installation.
Becoming a “Persona non Data”? Discover the technologies, data sources and processes behind the installation, explore the data it captures, play with it and create new usage scenarios. We will collectively imagine and explore new forms of social interaction that become possible when the data we produce becomes accessible as a cultural resource.
Artists Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico will interactively explore the critical, theoretical, social and political aspects of Persona non Data, and evaluating findings from the day’s workshop.
Can we really capture the essence of our daily lives through data?
During our everyday activities we generate enormous amounts of digital data: through the purchases we make, the images of our faces and bodies which are captured by CCTV cameras, our expressions through social networks and online services and through the network connected objects and services we use every day. Whether we realise it or not, we have become the subjects of massive processes that use this data in effective, beautiful, but also critical and frightening ways.
We don't really know or understand or have the perception of all of the ways in which we generate data. And even if we did, we would not be able to know or understand all of the ways in which the data we generate is used, through the algorithms which recognise our faces, gestures, actions, and classify us according to the patterns of the things we do or like in our daily lives, and which we really are not able to understand.
Furthermore, these algorithms create classifications which are really able to evaluate or comprehend: how do they understand our identities, cultures, orientations, the irony, humour, and all of the complex emotions and behaviours of our daily lives? These are among the most pressing (and yet unsolved) issues in the world of data.
On top of that, even if we are the ones generating all of this data, we are practically excluded from being able to use it directly, to make our own choices, or build our strategies and tactics, individually or with others.
In Persona Non Data the existing CCTV cameras infrastructure of an entire location is used to explore these possibilities.
Persona Non Data uses CCTV cameras infrastructures to capture people's movements, pauses, faces and flows and analyze them through facial recognition and computer vision algorithms.
On top of that, all the social networking and wifi activity in the exhibition space will be captured and, by interweaving and interrelating it with the CCTV flows, it will be possible for the algorithms to make assumptions about who is who, what are they thinking, doing, writing, communicating, and who they are relating with, just like it is possible for social network operators, secret services, insurance brokers and companies all over the world.
With a fundamental difference: all the captured information, here, becomes an usable, open data source which is visualised in real-time in the exhibit, and which people will learn how to use and interpret during the cultural program associated with the event, through workshops and lectures.
Finally, we will be able to ask the questions that really matter.
What and how much data am I generating?
How are my actions and expressions being interpreted and used?
What are the implications for my privacy, and for my social, relational, emotional, professional and political life? What value am I producing with every one of my actions, for the digital traces it leaves behind?
How could I understand and use all of this information, alone or with my community?
Are algorithms really understanding who I am? What I like? Which are my values, desires and the meaning of my behaviours?
Persona Non Data is an artwork commissioned by the King's College Cultural Institute in collaboration with the Department of Digital Humanities as a critical and performative research to be added to the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House.
The title of the work, “Persona Non Data”, plays with the Latin phrase ‘persona non grata’, and is the literal Italian translation for ‘a person who does not give themselves’.
The work is created by the Italian duo of artists Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Coté from the Digital Culture and Society programme at King’s College.
“Persona Non Data” will be introduced into the Big Bang Data exhibition to celebrate its extension, which will run until 20 March 2016.
The art work will be on show starting from February 4th, 2016.