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‘Spectre’

2019

Materials: Various

Dimensions: Variable

Named after the online persona of Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist that sold 87 million Facebook profiles to Cambridge Analytica, Spectre is an immersive installation that detournes many of the technologies and methods used by the Digital Influence Industry to influence people’s behaviours and decision making both online and in the voting booth. The installation is micro-curated by algorithms and powered by visitor’s personal data.

Spectre interrogates new forms of computational propaganda including OCEAN (Psychometric) profiling; generative image and text; ‘dark design’; ‘deep fake’ technologies; and micro-targeted advertising via a ‘dark ad’ generator.

Taking inspiration from key figures in conceptual art history and presented sculpturally to viewers as a stone circle for the 21st Century, the algorithmically defined materiality of Spectre gives form to the religious philosophy of Dataism. Spectre creates space for viewers to explore and interrogate the deeper ethical and moral implications that exist concerning the interconnected logics of Dataism, Psychopolitics and Surveillance Capitalism.

By applying detournement theory to digital contexts, the installation started out to subvert the Digital Influence Industry and via a series of generative ‘deep fake’ artworks of hacked celebrity ‘Influencers’, Spectre’s simulation reached dizzying heights. The artworks quickly became embroiled in a deeper, global conversation about the power of computational forms of propaganda as several ‘deep fake’ works from the installation went viral on social media leading to global press coverage and unexpected – and contradictory – official responses from Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

 

A project by Bill Posters & Dr. Daniel Howe.

Premier: ‘Alternate Realities’ (Commission Winner), 6th – 11th June, Site Gallery, Sheffield.

Project Partners: Canny AI, Respeecher, Reflect, Psychometrics Centre, Cambridge University

Spectre has been generously supported by Sheffield Doc/Fest, Site Gallery, British Council, MUTEK and Arts Council England.

Further details & short film: here

Press coverage: New York Times / Washington Post / BBC / Guardian / NY Post / Independent / Spiegel / Le Monde / La Republica / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / USA Today / Standaard / MIT Review / Artnet / Vice / Dazed / BBC Radio 4 / BBC World Service / Channel 4 News / Folha De S.Paulo / Frieze /