‘Spectre’ (2019)


Materials: Steel, perforated steel, paint, touchscreen monitor, Mac mini, camera, cabling

Dimensions: Variable (5m – 7m diam)

Interactive, immersive installation

How does it feel to take on the role & power of a tech giant? To leverage intimate data of other ‘followers’ and use it to influence their thoughts, feelings and decisions? How does it feel to scale up your power & influence a nation during an election? Spectre invites audiences in, to worship at the altar of Dataism with the gods of Silicon Valley.

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 new media 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. Users of Spectre’s system tear the lid off the ‘black box’ technologies revealing in the process how our personal data is used to influence us all in ways we are not aware. The installation is micro-curated by algorithms and powered by visitor’s personal data.

Spectre gamifies – and simulates – new forms of computational propaganda including OCEAN (Psychometric) profiling; gamification; algorithmic bias; personalisation; ‘dark design’; ‘deep fake’ technologies; and micro-targeted advertising via a ‘dark ad’ generator.

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 & interrogate the deeper ethical and moral implications that exist concerning the interconnected logics of Dataism and Surveillance Capitalism and their impacts on core human values such as privacy, truth, trust and democracy.

Spectre started out to subvert the power of the Digital Influence Industry & via a series of viral ‘deep fake’ artworks, Spectre became embroiled in a deeper, global conversation about the power of computational forms of propaganda 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), Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019.

Project Partners:  Psychometrics Centre, Cambridge University, Canny AI, Tactical Technology Collective

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 / Creative Review / Good Trouble Magazine / France24 / BBC / Business Insider / Wall Street Journal / Evening Standard / Washington Post / VOX / The Conversation /