as it correlates to virtuality

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2019
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In the form of an interactive text projection installation, the proposed project will utilize the language of the contemporary algorithmic ‘user culture’ to create a dynamic second-person narrative. In doing so, it seeks to examine the relationship between an ubiquitous virtuality, the logic of quantification and data-based representation, and the possibility of a remaining physicality. This project stemmed from a conversation with a student, where we talked about an existing application designed for food delivery, such that one would not even need to move anywhere for basic needs. This prompted my comment, "the last physical space will just be where you are standing." Anchored by this statement, the project consists of an application that will be activated when the viewer/user steps into a particular spot in the gallery and their presence is detected. The projected application would simply be a blank screen that, when activated, types out random, fictitious, and absurd ‘you-statements’ that would resemble the language utilized in contemporary data-mining and the algorithmic quantification of users (ie.  you might also enjoy…, you have a pattern of…). The result is a projection that mimics the process of data extraction, displaying text that is part fictional characteristics forcefully prescribed onto the viewer/user, and part second-person narrative, imperious and coercive, questioning what it means when information represents the populace. It tells the viewer/user a narrative about themselves, that is most likely untrue, but perhaps eerily familiar. Much primacy has been given to the role and place of the ‘user,’ with ideas adorned by this prefix becoming commonplace: user-generated content, user-friendly, user-interface, user experience…etc. UX (user experience) denotes a sense of the user-centric, of working for the user, designed to make the user’s life better. Despite this claim, UX is conceived to better understand the user for the benefit of the state and corporate administration. What was once on the peripheries (the user) is now the main source of value-extraction. The project is partly an examination of the dominance of a supposedly user-centric, individualized, customizable big data society, by placing certain attributes and data onto the viewer/user that are false, while constructing a situation that resembles and emphasizes the violence of data-extraction and databased representation, in particular its fallibility. Through linking the physical presence and location of the viewer/user with the apparatus that extracts and prescribes (false) attributes, the project intends to emphasize the polemics of data extraction from users and their subsequent representation by such information, while insisting on the fraught linkage between these virtual enterprises and the persisting physicality.

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Vian Rasheed