SELF/IMAGE is an interactive computational artwork that uses targeted advertising data to explore algorithmic abstraction of personality. This project is a response to Facebook’s "Ad Preferences" page, which displays keywords drawn from users’ browsing habits within and outside of Facebook. I am interested in how advertising algorithms condense the user into a list of words, abstracting personality in order to sell smarter. While some of these "preference" keywords seem hilariously arbitrary, some are unexpectedly accurate. This algorithmic abstraction of the self in some cases clashes with self-image, and in some cases reinforces it.
The piece is programmed using the C++ toolkit openFrameworks. A text dialog box prompts the user to input their name and Facebook preference keywords. Each "preference" keyword is then represented by an image sourced from DuckDuckGo and is visualized as an animated cube floating in an explorable 3D space.
SELF/IMAGE was used as a tool in workshops I hosted in Bristol and Merthyr Tydfil that were part of Knowle West Media Centre and Productive Margins’ project "Women, Data, and the Future". "Women, Data, and the Future" aims to explore how a greater understanding of data ethics, privacy, sharing, and ownership can empower women and girls to make informed choices about how they use and value their personal data. The project was exhibited alongside work co-created with the participants by 5 other artists at Digital Bristol Week. The above video was narrated by the participants and includes clips of their own visualizations.
Download the app here, github page here.