AboutA group exhibition exploring the unacknowledged currency of data accrued through analysis of the quantified self, that buys participation through the protocols of platform capitalism, the repurposing of which derives value in a myriad of opaque ways. With artists, technologists and writers: Marija Bozinovska Jones, Megan Snowe, Huw Lemmey and Michael Oswell, Caroline Sinders, and Ami Clarke.
Drawing on the previous Thinking through the Block workshops (audio @ www.x-fx.org) the exhibition becomes a site for a collectively authored writing experiment: de-leb - a science fiction based on fact, time-stamped via smart contracts on the blockchain.
de-leb: writing workshops. Sunday 22nd April 2-6pm, Sunday 6th May 2-6pm
de-leb takes it’s name from the situation that a de-leb - a dead celebrity - typically enjoys more data choice from beyond the grave i.e. they have more agency over the deployment of their data: name, image, the very idea of them, and the products that may be associated with them - than those still living. de-leb considers the currency of data, through the capacity to broker personal data through smart contracts, opening up through a thought experiment, questions regarding existing value systems that mean that data operates as an unacknowledged form of currency buying access and participation in a variety of ways.
Developed by Ami Clarke in collaboration with Paul Purgas, and Tom Pearson, with software development/coding by Tom Kobialka. Previous contributors have included: Tom Clark, Paul Purgas, Alessandro Ludovico, Karen Di Franco, Ruth Catlow, Ben Vickers, Tom Pearson, Malavika Rajnarayan, Prayas Abhinav and Satya Gummuluri.
Imran Perretta and Taylor Le Melle round table discussion with invited speaker.
Wednesday 7-9pm 11th/18th April (tbc)
Imran Perretta and Taylor Le Melle, with specially invited speaker, come together with de-leb for a round table discussion on the potential of decentralised systems that address a more equitable redistribution of money and power, drawing on previous models such as cooperatives and localized economies, to think through a fully interpellated understanding of blockchain, and, importantly, who gets to write this new calculus.
New interfaces such as IVR and the chat-bot bridge the human computer divide through language, as they combine in the quest for the ultimate user experience, whilst wearable tech of varying degrees of intimacy seamlessly engage with mind and body. All promise in various ways to enhance everyday life, but whilst doing so extract surplus value in the form of data. Mapping everything from the beguilingly simplistic ‘likes’ of facebook, that lead to penetrating psychological profiling, to an individuals temperature, sweat output, mood swings, peak periods of ovulation etc, that through analysis lead to models of mass behaviour. An array of data is collected at multiple points of contact via sometimes several interfaces at once, few of which are clearly defined, through complex apparatus’ of capture. Reminiscent of the ‘dividual’ as a bank of data, power operates subtly, as ‘autonomous agents internalize their directives’(1), in a logic of constant self-modulation, that Mike Pepi, writing on platform capitalism, describes as ‘dramatic regimes of measurement that posit an unknowably complex field of inputs’ by which ‘sublime administration operates’. He writes: ‘by facilitating this natural omniscience - it makes it seem like governance has melted away – a becoming ontological of power’(2). As tech giants become increasingly powerful, readings of ‘measure’ driven only by commercial needs, hark back to other historical forms of measure that worked as methods of control, in their normative and discriminatory readings of the subject.
New gradients of measure.
Marija Bozinovska Jones work explores links between social, computational and neural architectures thinking through the formation of identity, probing the self as a datafied and distributed identity. For de-leb, her EMO docking station captures and visualises emotional arousal via various measurements of breath and the skin, read by her proxy MBJ Wetware: Intelligence Assistance, simulating her voice in the space. Images from her C22H37NO2 tumblr - a chemical formula for Anandamide: a fatty acid neurotransmitter correlated to anxiety and depression levels - probe the biopolitics of self-improvement, blurring the lines between female empowerment and sexualisation amidst an imperative to gain ‘self knowledge’ through numbers.
The Emotional Labor Union (ELU) paperback, by Megan Snowe, published by Banner Repeater, is a members handbook protecting the rights of all who engage in emotional work, often considered a personal natural resource to be optimized and capitalized upon. Representing workers rights as participants in the greater emotional and global economy, her work questions how we understand, strategize and quantify our immaterial and emotional lived experiences by creating speculative works that live not far beyond the borders of existing paradigms.
Caroline Sinders is a machine learning designer/user researcher, and an artist who’s works focus’ on the intersections of natural language processing, AI, and online harassment on social media. Her call out for contributions to her growing feminist database during the exhibition period, aims to produce a slice of data to intervene in both civic and private networks. The project explores how interfaces such as chatbots and automated voice recognition services can be agents of change within machine learning systems utilized by both public and private sectors of daily life. She is currently a BuzzFeed/Eyebeam Open Labs fellow where she is prototyping a machine learning system to mitigate online harassment.
Huw Lemmey and Michael Oswell’s film: Assemble Everything, draws on the libidinous quality of Trainspotting’s ‘Choose Life’, as well as Marx’s Capital, to opt out of a liberal critique and propose an alternative point of attraction, that advocates and agitates towards the utopian highs of revolutionary politics as a viable alternative. The work was produced for "Revolution" by David Hoyle at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, October/November 2017, screening instructions: louder than war.
Ami Clarke works within the new behaviours emerging from code and language in hyper-networked culture, with a focus on the interdependencies between language and the economy. She will be developing an accumulative dashboard as critical essay throughout the exhibition period drawing on her experience as an adolescent at the ‘Tall Girls Clinic’, Great Ormond street childrens hospital, amid new ‘readings’ of her biocode via online DNA analysis: 23andme. Several voice recog ‘dialog agents’ can be overheard brokering her data as they learn language through negotiation skills, drawing on historical forms of measure previously used to calculate what degree of rights, if any, the subject might be afforded, amidst future projections of new gradients of measure within the burgeoning techno-capitalist landscape.
Whilst blockchain appears primarily still as a Rorschach(3) test, and many things to many people, central to this is the proposal of new ways of working via distributed autonomous networks, removing the necessity of a trusted source, such as a bank, or indeed, a government.
Drawing on the previous Thinking through the Block workshops last year, (the audio of which you can listen to at www.x-fx.org) the exhibition becomes a site for a collectively authored writing experiment, a science fiction based on fact, time-stamped via smart contracts on the blockchain.
de-leb takes it’s name from the situation that a de-leb - a dead celebrity - typically enjoys more data choice from beyond the grave i.e. they have more agency over the deployment of their data: name, image, the very idea of them, and the products that may be associated with them - than those still living. de-leb considers the currency of data, through the capacity to broker personal data through smart contracts, opening up through a thought experiment, questions regarding existing value systems that mean that data operates as an unacknowledged form of currency buying access and participation in a variety of ways. Whilst not wanting to accept the total financialization of the self as a fait accompli, the Wages for Housework movement drew attention to the fact that unacknowledged labour, supporting capital accumulation, continues, nonetheless.
de-leb acts as a site of collective authorship, across a broad ecology of actors and actants, including: users, user groups, programmers, hardware designers, data brokers/agents, risk managers, corporations, unions, PRS, DACS, algos, smart objects (phones, fridges, cars etc), DAO’s and other actants, not yet conceived of. It aims to examine the kinds of measure that currently exist, recursively produced through data analytics, and goes on to propose new gradients of measure, asking further what might be considered non-negotiable, what price anonymity, amid other pressing questions with regards the re-purposing of data. It draws upon the critical potential of the post-human, wary of claims of a humanist sort, and mindful that human rights have only ever been afforded to some, and not others, to address the ecology of means through which the subject emerges, snagged on the ideological and social transformations that new technologies bring about as governance is increasingly subsumed by software.
de-leb is developed by Ami Clarke in collaboration with Paul Purgas, and Tom Pearson, with software development/coding by Tom Kobialka.
(1) The Binder and the Server by Triple Canopy, 2012.
(2) Orgs: From Slime Mold to Silicon Valley, editor Jenna Sutela.
(3) Benjamin Bratton HKW Berlin 2017