Persona Non Data: turning a cultural institute into a data generator

“Persona Non Data”: Art in the age of Big Data

Full information at: http://artisopensource.net/persona-non-data/

Persona Non Data - Faces

Persona Non Data – Faces

An interactive installation shows how art can join research and technological innovation in the understanding of the cultural transformation in the age of Big Data, investigating on the critical implications originating from the large quantities of data which human beings generate in their daily lives.

Persona Non Data is the interactive artwork that, starting from February 4th 2016, will invade Somerset House‘s exhibit spaces, in London.

Persona Non Data

Persona Non Data

The artwork has been created by Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, part of the Art is Open Source collective which has focused its artistic practice on the exploration of the mutations of people’s lives with the ubiquitous diffusion of digital technologies. The artwork has been produced and supported by King’s College Cultural Institute, and comes with the academic lead of Dr. Mark Coté, of the college’s Digital Humanities department.

In Persona Non Data Somerset House itself will be transformed into a large-scale data generator, collecting any form of digital information which is generated by its visitors: their faces and movements as they are captured by CCTV cameras; the ways in which they use the wifi connection; their social networking activities.

Persona Non Data - a building becomes a data generator

Persona Non Data – a building becomes a data generator

All the data is represented through infoaesthetic visualisations, bringing together information design, complex systems and art.

An artwork of this kind exposes the critical issues of the information era: privacy, invasive technologies, opportunities coming from Open Data, surveillance, the mutation of our habits and behaviours, the transformation of labour, research and education with the advent of BigData, Artificial Intelligence and the emergence of power architectures represented by algorithms.

Persona Non Data - the data working class

Persona Non Data – the data working class

If, on the one hand, the abundance of data and algorithmic intelligence brings forth the possibility for radical innovation for our security, environment, energy and research, on the other hand we see our lives become more controlled, observed and encoded. On top of that, whether we realise it or not, we are transformed into unknowing data generators, as all of our ordinary activities start to generate digital data.

This is one of the themes which the artwork deals with. Among the visualisations in the exhibit a three-dimensional head “wears” the faces of the visitors of the exhibit, which are harvested using facial recognition algorithms, and, thus, they are virtually “employed” in the exhibit itself, for free, without realising it, through their data, just as all of us have become unknowing free labourers of the data industry, in each of our daily activities.

This and other critical issues will be explored in the cultural program which comes with “Persona Non Data”, through seminars, workshops and roundtables.

More information, including dates, events and cultural program at: http://artisopensource.net/persona-non-data/

Persona Non Data

Persona Non Data

 

Ghost Writer. A new literary genre: the algorithmic autobiography. Launch at StreamingEgos

GhostWriter is a new project by Art is Open Source.

A new literary genre to explore the mutation of the narration of self: the algorithmic autobiography.

Launched for the Streaming Egos project with the Goethe Institut and with the curation of the Italian group by Marco Mancuso and Filippo Lorenzin, the overall project includes 5 countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The launch event will be in Düsseldorf on January 16th and 17th 2016, at the NRW-Forum. In the Italian group we have the pleasure of being with Silvio Lorusso, Alterazioni Video, IOCose.

 

Ghost Writer

Ghost Writer is the first publication of a new literary genre: the algorithmic autobiography.

We are never alone when we construct our autobiography: other people are always with us, with their presence, influences, relations, interactions, shaping not only our behaviours, but also what we remember, what we feel as relevant, important, worthwhile, and also changing the ways in which we express it, for whom, and the contracts we establish by expressing ourselves: what to show, what to hide, how to interpret it, how to give a form to it.

As human beings of our times, new subjects enter the scene. We constantly leave digital traces in our lives, whether we realize it or not, whether we want it or not. A number of subjects constantly keep track of these bits of ourselves, constructing multiple versions of narrations of our lives, each with different focuses, parameters, points of view, perspectives. These are, to all effects, biographies.

Even more, they are auto-biographies. Auto, because they are automatically collected. And Auto, because we produce and express these bits of memory ourselves, in our daily lives, through our ordinary performances, like entries in an ubiquitous diary.

If we can collect all of these bits, all these episodes, all of these digital traces in our ubiquitous diary, we can imagine to produce a novel form of autobiography. Currently, multiple algorithms do exactly this, collecting all of these bits about ourselves, classifying them, organizing them by time, topic, emotion, behaviour, patterns, types, focuses and more.

These algorithms are the Ghost Writers of our Autobiographies.

Thus comes GhostWriter, a new literary genre: the algorithmic autobiography.

GhostWriter

GhostWriter

More information about Ghost Writer will be coming soon, right after the opening of the exhibit.

In the meantime, here are the short articles which we published on the Streaming Egos Blog:

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at the STARTS program in Brussels

I think that more and more we all understand that innovation in the future will be on the intersection of arts and sciences. (video)
— Commissioner Carlos Moedas

Artistic creativity and critical thinking are essential for innovation in today’s digital world.  Already, highly innovative companies like Mercedes thrive on a strong link between artists and their engineers…The EU will support [such] multidisciplinary themes in H2020…
— Commissioner Günther Oettinger

On December 1st and 2nd 2015,  at the European Parliament and Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, in Brussels, Belgium, Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons will take part “Innovation at the intersection of Arts, Sciences and Technology” event, organized by the STARTS program.

We will present the Human Ecosystems and the Ubiquitous Commons cases as the opportunity for creating value and inclusiveradical innovation through the collaboration between sciences, technologies and the arts, creating impacts for society, administrations and businesses.

From the website of the event:

Today, it is recognised that the critical skills needed for innovation to happen and to be of value for society are – in addition to scientific and technological skills –skills such as creativity and capacity to involve all of society in the process of (open) innovation. In this context, the Arts are gaining prominence as a catalyst for an efficient conversion of S&T knowledge into novel products, services, and processes and as a catalyst of open approaches in society, research, and business.

This event will focus on innovation through crossovers from culture, in particular artistic practices, to innovation in technology, society, business and regional development. It will cover policy aspects as well as successful examples of crossovers from culture to industry and regional development. Artists will also contribute with their views.

The meeting is organised on invitation by Members of European Parliament from the Committees on Culture and Education (CULT) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The event will link directly regionally-embedded actors across Europe from private and public sectors.

More information here, including Program and location.

Watch out for updates on this website for the results of the event, and about our next initiatives.

UPDATE: here is the slideshow from our presentation

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna

After its very first launch in Rome in September 2013 with EC(m1), after the Festival dell’Innovazione in Bari, Human Ecosystems goes back to Italy with a new project sponsored by the City of Bologna, with the support of ANCI – National Association of Italian Municipalities.

The project will start on October 7th 2015. Below the official press release.

HUB - Human Ecosystems Bologna: the emotional map of the city

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna: the emotional map of the city

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna

from 7th October to 7th December 2015 at the Urban Center of Bologna shows the

Realtime Life of the City of Collaboration 

Press Conference
12.30AM, Piazza Nettuno 3 – Bologna (Italy)

Who talks about collaboration in Bologna on social networks? And how? What are the more collaborative neighborhoods? Which topics are more discussed by citizens? What emotions are they expressing? Who are the hubs, the influencers, the bridges between communities and the experts of collaboration? In which languages does collaboration happen in town?

By launching the “HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna” project, the City of Bologna opens an unprecedented experiment at the intersection of art, technology, research and open data aiming to foster its collaborative policies.

Supported by ANCI – National Association of Italian Municipalities, the project will show the relational ecosystem of participation, cooperation and collaboration in the City of Bologna in its digital dimension, creating a parallel and complementary track of work to the “Collaborare è Bologna” process, the policies for collaboration promoted by the City administration.

From October 7th to December 7th 2015 an interactive exhibit will animate the spaces of the Urban Center, enabling citizens and visitors to observe the themes, places, emotions and opinions of the “Collaborative Bologna”, as they are addressed and publicly expressed on major social networks by citizens.

Matteo Lepore, Councillor for the Digital Agenda and the Promotion of the City, says: “With this project we intend to concretely experience the use of big data. We have launched the new civic network in Bologna and the city wi-fi, extending the coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with free access, offering high speed connection to schools, theaters and soon to enterprises and homes. We are reaching now the European goals for 2020, with social networks at the center of our innovation policies. We are aware that the digital ecosystem is an infrastructure for development, growth and inclusion. But to make this leap, we have to learn to systematize the data we produce: with HUB, we are going in the right direction, in particular considering the transition of Bologna toward metropolitan area and the public investments to come“.

HUB - Human Ecosystems Bologna: intensity

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna: intensity

Confronted with maps and social graphs“, say the authors of the project, Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, “people will be able to observe in real time the public conversations forming the ecosystems of collaboration, and to explore in new ways the digital public space of the city, discovering and creating unexpected connections“.

HUB - Human Ecosystems Bologna: relational ecosystens

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna: relational ecosystems

Antonella Galdi, General Deputy Secretary and  Technological Innovation and Culture Head of ANCI, states that “the project is likely to be replicated in other cities and contexts. We look forward to a trial that could “read” the city in a new way, aware of the need to use every possible tool to improve the analysis of public policies in urban territories. Moreover, this initiative is able to highlight the role of art and culture in innovation processes and, at the same time, to create new spaces, instruments, forms of relationship and involvement of citizens“.

HUB - Human Ecosystems Bologna: topics and relations among topics

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna: topics and relations among topics

At the end of the exhibit, the collected data will be released as set of Open Data. A new immaterial commons available to citizens, researchers, civil society and administration, opening an innovative experimentation in the field of open data policies, in which “citizens become sensors, with their interactions and everyday expressions in the new and controversial public space formed by social networks” continue Iaconesi and Persico.

According to Pina Civitella, Head Innovation Unit of the City of Bologna, the project creates “an innovative data source that provides significant opportunities for the development of value-added services for citizens, businesses, public administration, and for experimenting new forms of civic activation“.

HUB - Human Ecosystems Bologna: thematic correlations

HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna: thematic correlations

Human Ecosystems is a city-based international project already experimented across several cities worldwide, including Sao Paulo, New Haven, Toronto, Montreal. Christian Iaione, Director of “LabGov – LABoratory for the GOVernance of the Commons” and Coordinator of CO-Bologna, points up that “the project represents the digital and organisational pillar of CO-Bologna, a program supported by the Fondazione del Monte and the City of Bologna, aiming to turn Bologna in an open and collaborative city: a collective institution empowering individuals, businesses, civil society organisations, schools and the University to care for and regenerate the city as a commons, as well as to cultivate their abilities and potential“.

Links

HE – Human Ecosystems
www.human-ecosystems.com

“Collaborare è Bologna”
http://www.comune.bologna.it/collaborarebologna
http://www.urbancenterbologna.it/collaborare-bologna

“Human Ecosystems @Ars Electronica 2015”, on “Fastforward 2” by Motherboard, 1° episode
http://motherboard.vice.com/it/read/fastforward-ars-electronica

Human Ecosystems in S. Paulo (BR), documentary by Universidade Metodista
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEgKX-M4AOI

Human Ecosystems in New Haven (USA), documentary by YWF – Yale World Fellows
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXCeAHgKcHU

Credits
HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna is a project promoted by:

the City of Bologna

with the support of:

LabGov – LABoratory for the GOVernance of the Commons
ANCI – Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani

Concept and Realization:
HE – Human Ecosystems / AOS – Art is Open Source (S. Iaconesi; O. Persico)

Myriads, Trangression in the Post City: after Ars Electronica 2015

Some times has passed after Ars Electronica 2015, and our participation to its exhibit and to education programme with the Myriads project, part of the Human Ecosystems and of the Ubiquitous Commons.

In this post we wish to share some images from the exhibit, some information and materials about the 15 workshops we held while we were there, and some general considerations and perspectives for the future(s).

Myriads and Ars Electronica: some links

http://www.aec.at/postcity/en/myriads/

http://www.aec.at/postcity/en/myriads-of-knowledge-pills/

http://www.aec.at/aeblog/en/2015/08/28/myriads/

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/arselectronica/20953511038/

http://motherboard.vice.com/it/read/fastforward-ars-electronica

 

The Myriads Exhibit

The Myriads exhibit constituted an environment in which everything you see/hear/experience is generated through the data massively captured in multiple modalities from the city.

Myriads, the installation overview 2

Myriads, the installation overview 2

Myriads, the installation overview 1

Myriads, the installation overview 1

In this case, data was massively harvested from major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to gain understandings about the myriads of micro histories of the city, as they evolve with people’s behaviours, emotions, movements in the spaces of the city, and their flows of information, knowledge and communication. (the Human Ecosystems technology was used to perform the massive harvesting of this data, and for the use of Natural Language Analysis and Geo-referencing techniques interpret what emotions, movements, behaviours, topics, relations and flows were expressed by the captured messages).

Everything in the space was designed to show the passage from the industrial city to the Third Generation City, the  city of the flows of data, information, knowledge and emotions.

In the exhibit, the data coming from the interpretation of emotions, expressions, gossips, movements and behaviours, become the generative sounds, visuals and knowledge which you could see and access in the projections, screens, speakers, and in the workshops. As in Marco Casagrande‘s definition: the third generation city is the ruin of the industrial city, in which gossip, ruins infrastructures, transforming them into syncretic maps of the flows of citizens and their communications/exchanges in the city.

Myriads, the relations in the city

Myriads, the relations in the city

A large projection showed the most recent relations forming in the city, and expressed through our activities on social networks. Each time someone would comment, reply, or engage in conversations, the network shown on the visualisation would react accordingly. Each dot represents a person (or, better, a user on social networks), each line connecting dots represents a relation, with the line thicker or thinner according to the weight of the relations.

The sound heard in the exhibit space was the result of a data-sonification process which transformed the data of the sequences of emotions, expressed constantly on social networks, into sounds and waveforms.

The result was similar to this one (which is, instead, coming from the city of Rome, with the same process):

In another part of the exhibit four monitors, mounted onto metallic carts which were originally used to move mail envelopes and packages around in the enormous mail handling facility which hosted this year’s Ars Electronica exhibit, the Post City, continuously showed a series of info-aesthetic visualisations.

[youtube https://youtu.be/xXky_bdrrBU]

In the first monitor, the emotional map of the city was shown.

Myriads, map of emotions

Myriads, map of emotions

In the map, the emotions are color coded, and are shown on the map according to the locations in which their concentration was observed, and through a series of social network users (for whom their recent emotional history was represented) and posts (captured from one of the mentioned social networks, and coloured according to the emotion). On the bottom a timeline allowed to view emotions’ evolution through time.

A second visualisation showed the relational ecosystem of the city, as expressed through social networks.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

While the projected visualisation of the relations in the human ecosystem of the city displayed the most recent relationships, as they formed, this one visualises the most persistent relationships. In this way it is possible to represent the communities (or tribes, as defined in Netnographical theories), the consistent relations which form around themes and topics, the ways in which they evolve through time, and the roles which people assume in these relations, whether they are experts, influencers, amplifiers of messages, hubs or bridges among different communities.

The third visualisation dealt with the use of language.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

In this visualisation, the most (and least) common topics are described in terms of the ways in which people use language in discussing them. Which words are used for which topics, and their relations can generate multiple insights, also by observing how the use of languages to refer to certain topics evolves through time. In the visualisation, selected topics are explored in terms of the words used to discuss them, and in the relations among different topics.

The last visualisation expanded this type or observation, and explored the relation among different topics.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

In this visualisation (taken from here), the topics are listed on both axis of the matrix (rows and column headers) and if there is a color at the intersections it means that the corresponding topics are discussed together: the brighter the color, the more often this happens. The elements are constantly shifted together to highlight different characteristics: topic clusters (group of topics which are often discussed together); recurrence (showing the frequency with which topics are discussed) and others. These characters are also color-coded, to reflect the most probable groups to which the various topics belong.

The Education Program

At Ars Electronica, the Myriads project included 15 workshop pills: 15 different micro workshops, each one dealing with one specific point of view or perspective which was relevant to the concept of the work.

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 2

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 2

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 3

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 3

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 1

Myriads, the Workshop Pills, 1

Each workshop pill was distributed under the form of a dose of the Myriads’ knowledge drug, each containing one micro-slide with the title of the workshop and a link to a set of documentation items which were used in it: from articles, to scientific publications, to software and tools.

These are all of the micro-slides of the workshop-pills:

The workshops covered multiple topics: identity; relational ecosystems; practical examples of generative arts (and the software needed to create it); privacy and surveillance; peer-to-peer ethnography; zombies (and the significance of understanding each era’s monsters). There was also a hidden, mysterious 16th workshop (which some people actually managed to find) going under the title of Jennifer Gabry’s essay “Telepathically Urban“.

Each workshop lasted 20 minutes, giving participants a good overview of the theme, as well as the possibility to choose which workshops to participate to, assembling the, into an educational and experiential path.

These are the slides from the workshop:

Considerations

We were very satisfied with the results.

As is always our intention, both the exhibit and the education program were a stimulus for people’s perception for possible futures of cities, helping them to build their own imagination, vision and desires beyond mere technologically possible futures, tending toward better understanding of their desirable, imaginable futures, together with other people, their conflicts, agreements, divergences, differences and harmonies.

In this, the education program constituted a major advantage. Workshop participants really seemed to appreciate the effort dedicated to exploring possibilities, going beyond the techno-imaginaries which are currently promoted by industry operators.

People were very engaged, stayed long after the intended 20 minutes duration of the workshops, bringing up interesting and profound conversations. They came back over and over, multiple times, even given the richness of the program at Ars Electronica. This happened for the specific need, expressed by many participants, to confront with the absence of conflict, differences and transgression in the technological discourse about the future of the city.

For example, this was particularly visible and highlighted by the industrialization of mind workshop, and by the identity workshop, where we analysed some of the most critical aspects of the emergence of the experience economies and of the creative economies, as well as in the Ubiquitous Commons workshop, where we learned some models to use to enact participatory actions to propose autonomous alternatives.

In the end, the clear issue was about te importance of the themes which we confronted with in Myriads. They go well beyond the technological features of the “future” cities, and regard human beings’ fundamental rights and desires.