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

 

HE and UC at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon 20-22 October

ICT2015 – Innovate, Connect, Transform  is the largest event organized by the EU Commission in 2015 to foster research and innovation at European level, show the best results achieved through financed projects, inform about upcoming call, facilitate the emergence of new networks.

The StARTS program – Innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology and the Arts, realized for the occasion an exhibit showcasing a selection of different projects from allover Europe: Italy was represented by Ubiquitous Commons and Human Ecosystems, in particular the ongoing HUB – Human Ecosystems Bologna project.

The program “attempts to bring the creative power of the Arts to bear on innovation in Europe by including artists in European Commission funded research“, as explains Ralph Dum (European Commission) in a recent article.

From our experience, StARTS created an unexpected short circuit of languages in the standard setting of EU events, showing how research can become performance, data the access to perceive new possible realities, and more. A place in which was a pleasure to live and interact for three days.

Below some pictures from the exhibit.

Special thanks to Luis Girao, Irene Ingardi and the whole crew of StARTS for making it possible.

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit - ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons at StARTS exhibit – ICT2015, Lisbon, 20-22 October

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)

Ubiquitous Commons at Hybrid City conference in Athens: Data to the People

Ubiquitous Commons and Human Ecosystems will be at the “Hybrid City III: Data to the People” conference in Athens, on September 17-19, organised by the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC), in collaboration with New Technologies Laboratory, of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, of the University of Athens.

The paper “Data and the City: moving from surveillance and control to the Ubiquitous Commons” will be presented there.

The paper will be available on the conference proceedings, and here on this website.

Here is the abstract:

Social networks and ubiquitous technologies have transformed the ways in which we communicate, learn, work, consume, express emotions, relate to each other, create and share information and knowledge.

Major operators create digitally mediated public and private spaces using hardware and software user interfaces, iconic and symbolic architectures, communication strategies and patterns.

This scenario creates private/public spheres in which users leave digital traces which are used to commoditise human behaviour and expression: for marketing, surveillance, social experiments and more, all without explicit participant consent: current modalities are not sufficient in enabling users to control the ways in which their data is used.

Algorithmic production of information is yet another space in which confusion and opacity are created in people’s perception of how their information will be used: they are not transparent and accountable, and laws, regulations and habits are not structurally able to confront with their continuous, fluid evolution.
This results in the systematic transgression of multiple human rights and expectations. This scenario describes a critical situation which must be confronted with.

In this article we propose a two-phase methodology whose objective is to find resolutive solutions for the presented context, starting from a focus on major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

The first phase is exemplified through a city-based project called Human Ecosystems which, at the time of writing, has been started in multiple cities (Rome, Sao Paulo, Montreal, New Haven, among others).

The project has four steps: re-appropriation; sharing; education; performance.
In the re-appropriation step, public data generated by users on major social networks is harvested and processed, to understand the Relational Ecosystems of the city, and the topic/emotion networks which are expressed by city-dwellers, thus being able to describe information and knowledge flows across communities.

In the sharing stage, all of the harvested and processed information is made available under the form of a source of real-time open data, released under with a peer-production license.

In the education stage, widely accessible workshops are used to engage the population in the understanding of the implications generated by the availability of such data, and of how this data can be used for citizens’ self-organisation, civic action, to understand the cities’ cultures and communities, and for participatory decision-making processes.

In the performance stage, an inclusive laboratory is created in the city in which students, researchers, public administrators, designers, artists and organisations receive support in building these scenarios, understanding them and their critical implications.

In the second phase of the methodology is the Ubiquitous Commons are defined. They come under the form of legal and technological toolkits which describe a “protocol” used to declare the intended use of element of ubiquitous information generated by users. It is an evolution of the concept of the Creative Commons, in the era ubiquitous information and dealing with the qualitative, quantitative, technical, technological and legal implications of these new forms of data.

Myriads: transgression in the Post City

This year, Art is Open Source, Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons will be featured at Ars Electronica, as part of the Post City Kit exhibition, with the Myriads project (part of the wider Ubiquitous Infoscapes project).

From Ars Electronica’s website:

Post City Kit is a toolkit of ideas, strategies, devices and prototypes for the city of the future. The city is – and will remain – a scene of a permanent human life and survival experiment. In condensed form here culture(s), social systems and economic and political policies of their time are coming to light. The Post City Kit Exhibition shows with numerous prototypes and project presentations possible development directions towards the urban habitats for the upcoming human generations.

Myriads

The Myriads project will be composed of:

  • an exhibit;
  • some Info-dealers;
  • a series of 15 micro-workshops (aka the Workshop Pills).

Let’s see what the project is about, and what you’ll see in Ars Electronica.

The project concept

Big Data is a concept in continuous mutation. The exponential rise of the quantity and quality of data and information which individuals generate every day is the single most important driver of the evolution of the concept of Big Data.

Each of our gestures, movements, relations, transactions, expressions tend to become occasions for the generation of digital data and information.

This happens whether we realize it or not, consciously or unconsciously, in direct, indirect, transparent or completely opaque ways. At the present time, most individuals generate data in ways in which they don’t realize or understand, and which they cannot understand, due to the opacity of collection processes, algorithms, classifications, parameters. They don’t (can’t) know how this information is used: unaccessible profiles are used to generate personalized interfaces, services, advertisements, content. We are constantly becoming the unknowing subjects of social experiments, communication campaigns, national security scrutiny, dots in dashboards and information visualizations.

Individuals are, currently, the only ones who cannot fully benefit from Big Data: to organize themselves; to create meaningful, shared initiatives; to understand more about themselves and about the world around them.

On top of that, when data becomes so detailed that the sample can be as large as the actual population, and it is possible to use complex algorithms to process it, we experience a growing rise in the perception of the possibility to eliminate all risks. Which, of course, has its impacts, in terms of the elimination of the possibility to comprehend and value what is different, unexpected, transgressive, adventurous, possible. This may lead to the deterministic, data-biopolitical scenario which is what we confront with with our projects.

We aim at describing an ubiquitous infoscape, in which data becomes an accessible, usable part of the landscape, just as buildings, trees, roads, and in which it is clear and transparent (although complex and fluid) what is public, private, intimate. In which people are able to express how they wish their data to be used, and can actually use it to construct meaningful actions. We aim to create a participatory, inclusive, performative space, in which people – as individuals and members of society – can express themselves and do things, defining new forms of public/private/intimate spaces which are agible, accessible, usable.

Myriads visualization

Myriads visualization

Myriads

What is the role of transgression in the Post City?

Myriads of micro-histories in the city massively recombine, interfere, interact, interconnect, forming the life of the city in its continuous mutation, innovation and transgression.

People constantly transgress, reprogramming spaces, time and relations, creating a level of tactical cultural biodiversity which can happen only in the dense urban environments, and which constitutes the wealth and richness of the city.

Elizabeth Grosz defines this process as spatial excess, a new dimension which is able to go beyond preconceptions, prejudices and worries about utility, “beyond the relevance for the present, looking towards the future.” The revelation and discovery of this excess depends on the possibility for transgression.

Excess is in the “problematic”, which is full of potential. The clandestine, the unacknowledged, the unofficial find their survival – beyond crime – in the transgression of social norms and limits. Those same limits which have excluded them in the first place. The recycle trash, appropriate spaces, invent communication channels, create styles, fashions and trends.

They don’t cross borders: they move on them. Moving, they innovate.

Using a term from Massimo Canevacci Ribeiro: innovation is the possibility for methodological indiscipline.

The Myriads project created for Ars Electronica by Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons establishes a peer-to-peer ethnography of the city: a diffused participatory observation in which the myriads of public micro-histories of the daily life of the city will be captured, transformed into a commons, and performed through art, education, citizen engagement and tactical usage.

The Exhibit

The Myriads exhibit will come under the form of a small real-time museum of the city, in which people will be able to learn more about the city (it will be instanced to observe the city of Linz), and to ask questions to the city, obtaining participatory, polyphonic, emergent answers.

A series of interactive information visualizations will be on show, describing only some of the ways in which people can use this information.

Some will show where data and information are more dense.

Myriads at Ars Electronica, the density of information

Myriads at Ars Electronica, the density of information

Some will show emotional expressions which can be inferred from the ways in which people communicate, or act.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: emotions

Myriads at Ars Electronica: emotions

Some will show the relations running between people, as they emerge from digital interactions.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

Some will show how topics of discussion or interest are interrelated with one another.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

Some will show the languages used, and how they relate with each other, through the ways in which people use and interweave them, with words, sentences, speaking to someone in one language and to someone else in another.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

A series of other visualizations will be shown, and some will be created on location, together with workshops participants.

All the information is obtained through social networks, smartphones, network connected devices disseminated in the city and on people’s bodies, and through the fantastic collaboration with Linz’s Open Commons, and Linz Open Data.

To learn more how we collect data and information, and how we confront with the enormous critical implications of these practices, you may want to look at the Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons websites.

The Info-dealers

In the Myriads space, there will be Info-dealers.

The Info-dealer is a new form of urban dweller, emerging in the ubiquitous public sphere: a thug, a lowlife, a transgressor who lives on the border of society. The Info-dealer is a dealer, he/she knows things; knows what’s going on in the city; knows what “they” don’t, and that’s his/her advantage: the Info-dealer knows the micro-histories of the city. He/she knows how to use them, to do things, to organize people, to make things happen, to know where to get things, who are the best people for a certain topic, who to call, who to engage, what people desire and expect.

Info-dealers stop people and tell them “do you need something?” They operate on people’s desires, imaginations, expectations, wishes, frustrations; they listen and understand what people want, establishing a complicity, an intimate relation with them, to know their desires.

By visiting Myriads you may have the chance to meet one.

Myriads of workshops

Myriads of workshops

Myriads of Knowledge Pills

How is it possible to capture the real-time life of the city, using social networks, sensors, data, wearable devices, Internet of Things, domotics, and other sources of digital information?

How can this process represent the myriads of micro-histories in the city, and their potential for generating diffused knowledge and imaginaries?

How is it possible to use this knowledge, transforming it into the inclusive participatory performance of the co-creation of the city?

What are peer-to-peer ethnography and Digital Urban Acupuncture?

What is the Relational Ecosystem of the city?

How is it possible to define and use new types of identity in these types of processes? Individual, anonymous, collective, nomadic and temporary identities?

What are the implications of these kinds of processes on privacy, surveillance, people’s fundamental rights for assembly, expression, opinion? And how can we turn these issues upside-down, and inside-out, to use this wealth of data in constructive, shared, inclusive ways, to transform the city?

The Myriads of Knowledge Pills workshop series will answer some of these questions.

15 workshop pills.

20 minutes each.

Each micro-workshop deals one “knowledge pill”, delivered by Myriad’s info-dealers, which participants will be able to take with them.

No technical or technological pre-requisite needed. All can (and should) participate.

Everyone can attend just 1 workshop, 2, 3, all of them. They can be experienced singularly, but the more you attend, the more you understand.

This is the list of workshops:

  1. Harvesting data in the city
  2. Humans and Non-Humans living, expressing and performing in the city
  3. Citizens’ micro-histories captured through the devices in their pockets, homes, offices
  4. An introduction to the Third Infoscape
  5. The Relational Ecosystem of cities
  6. Peer-to-Peer Ethnography
  7. Digital Urban Acupuncture for dummies
  8. Identities in the city: individual, collective, anonymous, nomadic, temporary
  9. Human Ecosystems: the real-time life of the city becomes a commons
  10. Ubiquitous Commons: the commons in the age of ubiquitous technologies
  11. Stakhanov: a Big Data oracle to predict your lives, and its implications on privacy and ingenuity
  12. Generating artworks with the data of the real-time life of the city
  13. An Emotional Compass
  14. The Industrialization of the Mind
  15. Zombies. Zombies everywhere. Each age has its “Monsters”. Transgression in the city.

Please look at the program to know times and locations.

See you there! (or back here to know how it went)