How do you transform a cultural organization into a BigData generator? How can you investigate the implications in terms of privacy, control, surveillance, but, at the same time, about the opportunities in terms of knowledge, understanding and comprehension, and for collaboration and shared action?
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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 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” has been shown for the first time in the Big Bang Data exhibition to celebrate its extension, running until 20 March 2016.