DUOJulie Favreau & Effy Vayena
GETTING THE BETTER OF ME : BEING ONESELF IN THE BIG DATA WORLD – Effy Vayena –
Devices and systems that continuously capture our data populate the world we live in. These data driven practices do so in the name of efficiency and the improvement of mundane daily tasks, sleep patterns, decision-making habits, our relationships, and ourselves as a whole.
A radiant example is the “wellness” domain, composed of infinite wellbeing apps and related AI based service. In this context, ubiquitous data capturing, and processing systems claim to tell us who we are, while simultaneously fueling and constructing an imperative of improvement.
I argue that the unfettered promotion of an unexamined imperative of a “better self”, comes at the cost of privacy, at the expense of our limited attention and ultimately forces delegation of our agency. If this is correct, the question is – who is actually getting better, at what and why?
This Thing, 2019
4K video transferred in HD, acrylic
3 min. 9 sec.
With Helga Wretman
CGI: Malte Zander
Cameraman and production assistant: Max Hilsamer
Sound: Lukas Grundman
Among the technological developments in the health sector, AI occurrences are more frequent and diverse than ever before. From computer applications designed to improve physical conditions or diagnose more accurately, to devices and equipment that act like micro healthcare operators that can be permanently attached to our bodies but will, in all likelihood, be integrated into our flesh in the near future, AI in health takes many forms. Drawing from these new realities, artist Julie Favreau’s video installation This Thing features a young woman in an open field close to a forest that looks lush but denotes the unknown. Alone and quiet, the protagonist is engaged in an unexpected dialogue with an unfamiliar object: a thing. This flesh-colored entity seems gifted with a singular autonomy as it moves in the air around the woman, at times responding to her movements, and maybe even to her thoughts. Its purpose is unclear, but seems to be inextricably linked to a negotiation with the human body, particularly with its sensory, synaesthetic and, at times, erotic qualities. Is this thing a physical extension of the young woman looking out for her well-being or a sophisticated device set on manipulating her? Is it a new form of life that now exists alongside humans? Considering the omnipresence of new technologies and the ways in which they take up mental and physical space, Favreau transposes the principles of divine ubiquity and omniscience onto the devices that affect our individual and collective well-being. This transposition, with its spiritual undertones already hinted by the natural environment, is further clarified as we see the evolution of the living object which, through the circular motion of the camera, changes its form, softens and finally approaches a state of transparency and liquefaction. For their part, the abstract and aerial lines of the drawings that complete the installation invite us to imagine a mental and spatial mapping of this being.