What Google Wants

My artistic practice is based on interest in Cognitive Capitalism, where data is regarded as source of value. This project takes up theoretical point by Shoshana Zuboff extensively developed in her book "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism," and extends it to the contact-tracking and the use of private data by different governments  and companies under the excuse of safety and health.

Although my practice is based on documentary and diary-based exploration of various aspects of myself embedded in the social fiber of “reality,” this project is in that respect similar, but at the same time slightly different. Namely, immediately after the first hard lockdown in Vienna I realized that I am spending more time in front of the screen–very often simply neurotically browsing through Instagram and Facebook. Many of the posts are personalized advertisements.

Since I live together with my partner, I realize that some advertisements aim directly at what have been discussing, not to mention browsing via Google Chrome. So, I decided to systematically capture this “new reality” constantly present in front of my eyes, making screenshots of the advertisement in social media, mostly focusing on the two mentioned platforms. (The project started on March 16th, and until now consists of 2116 images, an archive growing on a daily basis). I realized that those targeting methods could be actually used to find out certain things about himself/herself. There are plenty examples from the research where for example, Google realized that the person was pregnant before she actually knew it herself. It is not only about repeating or using certain keywords, artificial intelligence (AI) can make inferences from various sources and even contextualize adds targeting.

Ironically, this type of knowledge we get from Google and the moment of bringing unconscious into awareness, could be regarded as a form of psychoanalysis with the  aims that are very often directed towards surveillance and exploitation. This method is very dangerous when compared with older medias, as it could aim towards major emotional states of individuals even use the results to control or manipulate behaviors of the targeted person. Here I would like to draw attention to the images I started getting, for example advertisement for funeral equipment and services or sportswear for protests? Maybe Google already knows something about myself, that I even was not aware of.

In the work, Clinical Case Of Detecting Subconsciousness  In Early Artificial Intelligence I am playing with image misrecognition , and the treatment  of images by AI in order to categories and sort the images from the archive.

The last part of the is a painting from a series I Wish I Was Hito Steyerl, Smart, Rich and Beautiful or How to please AI, I am referring to Travor Peglen artistic practice, especially employed in his project Invisible Images but in a reverse mode. Instead of computerized images designed by algorithms and neural networks used to acquire knowledge and skills from harvested data I am trying to reverse the process and to appropriate and mimic different ways those computer softer and algorithm used in face recognition, edge detection and object recognition skills to decode the visual meaning with hope that AI will know how to appreciate my attempt.

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