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

 

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)

Human Ecosystems at Expo Aquae, in Venice

Human Ecosystems at Expo Aquae in Venice, August 1st 2015, at 11am.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0yroTq4Jd0]

Full information about the event is on Human Ecosystems.

How do we speak about water?

How do we relate? What are our fears, concerns, important issues, joys and anxieties about water?

We have captured 3 months of public social networking conversations about water, and analysed them: a full linguistic, emotional, geographical, relational and network analysis has been performed on them, using Human Ecosystems technologies.

More than 700 thousand conversations, involving more than 150 thousand users speaking Italian or being in the Italian territory.

From people going to the beach, to concerns about pollution, draughts, the extreme heath and other expressions, among surprise, joy, happiness, and anxiety, fear, expectation.

All of the data will be published as an Open Data dataset, to be used by citizens, researchers and organizations to understand our expressions about water and the ways in which we collaborate, are different, are united or divided, and how emotions, opinions, information and knowledge spread across human relations in the digital sphere.

Join us in Venice on August 1st for the presentation.

Human Ecosystems , Water, in Venice

Human Ecosystems , Water, in Venice

This initiative is organized and supported by:

http://only-italia.it/

http://www.diculther.eu/

http://www.baicr.it/

http://www.4changing.it/

http://www.insor.eu/

Download the official Press Release (Italian)

Multipli-cities: a festival in Rome, poliphonic visions on the city, Human Ecosystems

Join us on February 28-28 2015 in Rome,at the Ex Cartiera Latina ( in beautiful industrial complex deep in the Appia Antica Regional Park, in Via Appia Antica, 42) for the 2NC Fest, Multipli-Cities, a biennial event on urban multimedia narratives, offering a focus on cities and on the opportunities which open up when the city is imagined as a polyphony of voices and expressions. There, we will showcase the most recent updates of Human Ecosystems in Rome.

The festival is organised by Visiva and Naked City Project and will offer a complex setup of conferences, installations, screening and live performances focused on the city, and its multiple points of view.

You can find the full program here.

We will be present with HERO (Human Ecosystems Rome), and in a couple of talks and other sessions.

The Real Time Museum of the City and the Ubiquitous Commons

A public gathering in Rome, uniting administrations, politics, civil society and the cultures of the Italian capital become the occasion to explore the Human Ecosystems, the Real Time Museum of the City and the Ubiquitous Commons: the emergence of a vision of the relational ecosystem of the city and of the transformation of citizenship in the age of ubiquitous information.

This will happen in Rome, on July 7th 2014, from 3pm to 7:30pm at the Palazzo ex Pantanella, piazza Bocca della Verità 16.

You can visit the website http://ripartiamodaifori.it/ to learn more about the event (the website is in italian). You can also Download the Press Release and Download the Program for the event here (both are the official releases, in Italian).

The Real Time Museum of the City

What if there was a museum, in each city, which did not have in display paintings, sculptures or the archives and exhibits which we are all used to imagining when we think about Museums, but the “life of the city”, in real-time?

What if, in this Museum, you could play with the real-time life of the city, exploring the cultures, communities and relations which constantly form and transform in the city, between citizens of all ages, administrations, cultures, companies, organisations?

What if, in this Museum, you could learn how to understand these relationships, and how to use them to create a novel form of citizenship, in which citizens are positive, active, aware agents of their city, organising among themselves and with administrations and companies to promote and support the well-being of the city itself.

The Real Time Museum of the City

The Real Time Museum of the City

This is what we’re exploring with the Human Ecosystems project, starting in Sao Paulo, Rome, Montreal, Toronto, Lecce, Budapest and, really soon, in other major cities across the planet.

Ubiquitous Commons

The Human Ecosystems project is tightly connected with the concept of Ubiquitous Commons (and we will be spending a whole semester at Yale, with a Yale World Fellowship, to explore this concept and publish the first results).

With the idea of the Ubiquitous Commons we wish to highlight that a massive transformation has already happened for human beings.

Ubiquitous Information, mobile technologies, sensors, pervasive digital transaction, content, information and interaction have radically transformed the ways in which we perceive public and private spaces, as well as the ways in we relate, communicate, work, express, consume, share knowledge and information.

The world, today, sits in a grey area in which this radical transformation has already happened (and is constantly continuing to happen), and laws, regulations, social and cultural conventions, critical perceptions have not yet learned how to understand and cope with them, leaving us in a state of continuous, rapid, incomprehensible, opaque revolution of the boundaries of what is public and what is private (and the radical consequences which this has), which is controlled by entities whose interest does not lie in the public well-being.

Affecting everything from privacy, to transparency, to openness, to participatory governance, to shared knowledge, information, and even up to health and personal well-being (just think about all the things you can achieve through biometrics, quantified-self and more).

Ubiquitous Commons

Ubiquitous Commons

Through Ubiquitous Commons we wish to address this domain: to create a common effort through which Ubiquitous Information, of the many kinds which affect our daily lives – wether we realise it or not – becomes open, accessible, usable to us, as citizens and human beings, to perform this transformation which has already happened, and to mutate it into a chance for our expression and freedoms, giving us the chance to create new ecologies and economies, based on openness, accessibility, inclusion and participation.

The two issues (the Real-Time Museum of the City and Ubiquitous Commons) are closely connected, as the Real Time Museum of the City is a sort of iconic presence in the City of the concept of the Ubiquitous Commons: the place of perception and beauty in which one starts to comprehend, learn and use the Relational Ecosystem of the city, to perform this transformation, to perceive a new possibility for citizenship.