SomersetWysing

Somerset House x Wysing Art Centre

Appendix

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Wysing Polyphonic – sketch for live show

sound example by Mukul

Immersive audio-visual work in 8 movements; libretto includes words adapted from Shoshanna Zuboff’s book ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’; some of the text will be projected. Visuals will also include manipulated point-cloud representations of bodies and space.  

Each movement in a prescribed mode and rhythmic cycle (associated with a mood, drawing on Indian music theory). First movement is designed to ‘make them dance’, and gives way to a subsequent movements of varying moods. Some movements feature (prerecorded) texts spoken by Zuboff.  

Sound is obtained through synthesis / microphony and processed in MSP or similar.  

There will be an aleatoric element, possibly generated electromechanically (eg. chaotic pendulum, or a simple robot on a random walk). Note clusters will emerge and condense into melodic / rhythmic motifs. 

technical:

4 channel amplification

audio playback computer and soundcard; custom electronics

2 HD projectors 

video playback computer (at least quad core i7, SSD – capable of playing back two streams of ProRes 4444) 

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examples of R&D / visuals and film

Recognising the urgent need for a new visual language to illuminate this concern, we developed a hybrid narrative form that combines photogrammetry and volumetric filmmaking with custom-coded tools to animate and manipulate.

Photogrammetry is a method of ‘computational photography’ in which algorithms are used to calculate the path of the ray that hits the image sensor.  We process this additional depth/motion data to distort the 2D images in ways that suggest the deduction of additional information, such as the intention or character of a person in the frame. By decimating (simplifying) the polygonal mesh of a person, we extract their essential character – in the same way that algorithms reduce us to a finite set of correlated data points that supposedly reveal who we really are. Facebook – and Visa – know you better than you know yourself. But, like the algorithms managing our societies, our photogrammetric algorithms produce hollow shells of characters…

(silent) test material examples

password: example urban spaces (1′ 45”)

password: example people (2′ 33”)

 

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Narration:

excerpts of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Shoshana Zuboff (2019)

I. 

Make them dance

Make them dance

Let the music

Let the music

make them dance

II. 

Nothing is inevitable

As a data scientist explained to me,

‘We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour

and force change that way

We are learning how to write the music, 

and then we let the music make them dance.’

We succumb to the drumbeat of inevitability, 

but nothing here is inevitable.

III. 

Text

More than six hundred years ago 

the printing press put the written word

into the hands of ordinary people.

Today, we are authors and readers

of a public-facing text 

familiar and celebrated 

for the universe of information

that it brings to our fingertips 

Composed of our posts, blogs, videos, photos, 

conversations, music, stories, observations

‘likes’, tweets, and all the

great massing hubbub of our lives.

IV.

Shadow text

This first text trails a shadow close behind

The shadow text is about us

but it is not for us.

Our experience is raw material

accumulated and analyzed 

as a means to 

others’ market ends.

The shadow text

says more about us

than we can know

about ourselves. 

V. 

Division

The division of learning is to us

what the division of labour was to

our grandparents.

The most dangerous form of inequality: 

extreme asymmetries of power

that make ‘conflict itself impossible.’

VI. 

Mining 

‘Personalisation’ is camouflage

for aggressive extraction operations

that mine the intimate depths 

of everyday life. 

‘Because transactions are now computer mediated

we can observe behaviour that was 

previously unobservable 

and write contracts on it.’

‘Catalyze this data exhaust

from ubiquitous computing

and convert it into fuel

for ambient intelligence.’

VII.

The Behavioural Futures market

A logic of accumulation

in which surveillance

transforms

investment

into

profit.

Google discovered that

we are less valuable 

than others’ bets 

on our future behaviour.

‘We are learning how to write the music, 

and then we let the music make them dance.’

VIII. Nothing is inevitable

We succumb to the drumbeat of inevitability, 

but nothing here is inevitable.