Our lives are increasingly defined by data.

From the echo chamber of our Facebook feeds to the flash trading of commodities on our stock markets, data, its collection and its application has come to influence our daily lives like no other force. This exhibition seeks to offer a critique of how data is collected and ultimately how it mediates who we are.

Strings seeks to make evident the transformation of the self through its dialectical relationship with data collection, monetization and replication. The desire to taxonomize and mobilize our subjectivity through data has produced a tendency capable of simultaneously synthesizing value and obscuring it. The need to locate the self within a sea of interdependent systems is urgent but evasive. The prospect of replicating ourselves in these systems is becoming reality. Virtual and fake have become real.The desire to taxonomize and mobilize our subjectivity through data has produced a tendency capable of simultaneously synthesizing value and obscuring it.

This exhibition approaches the relationship of data to our daily lives through three questions:

How is data extracted?

The work of Branger_Briz (Probe Kit, 2015) exposes the points at which we become data to be exported and extrapolated by companies, organizations and governments, ultimately presenting the viewer with their own lack of choice when participating in a digital world. 

Branger_Briz in collaboration with Brannon Dorsey debuted Probe Kit at the eMerge Americas Conference, as an activist “artware” installation aimed at illustrating how simple it is to collect personal network data and how much can be inferred from that data. Sarcastically pitched as an “amateur data collector kit”, Probe Kit turns your wifi card into a “net” that catches the fluttering probe requests (data packets) emitted from the wireless devices of the people around you.

Probe Kit debuted at the eMerge Americas Conference in Miami Beach and will be included at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality in Fukuoka, Japan. A computer with a 9 dbi omni WiFi antenna collects probes from devices in the area while simultaneously spawning a butterfly per device in a projected “habitat”. This installation view displays all the butterflies (devices) in a 3D space and scans for new devices and details their network list, map and related metadata

What can become of your data?

Heather Dewey-Hagborg (Stranger Visions, 2012-2013) uses genetic data to discover identities from the traces of our lives. The apparent lack of genetic privacy forces a reconsideration of the boundaries of self within a culture rapidly developing cheap, mass-produced genetic technologies.

How is emotional intelligence affected by data?

Jennifer Chan (Austerity, 2016) uses found footage to create heartfelt works about vulnerability that recenter the self as a series of performances in accordance with imagined ideals. An exuberant longing saturates her video works.  

Strings addresses the monumental question of how the subject is defined in an age when every dimension and component of the global environment is atomized and mined for value. The mass collection of data and the layered algorithms that mine them force us to consider the latent value of the most insignificant gestures. We have already begun to see self-censorship as a response to these pervasive surveillance networks as well as massive shifts in information value systems. We are at a point where the individual risks losing the ability to orient themselves within the multitude of anesthetizing data streams, a landscape where the only thing that becomes meaningful is the abstract relationship between data sets.