The Infinite Campaign 24 October - 11 November 2018

Sam Lavigne

For The Infinite Campaign the artist downloaded Twitter’s ad creation page to produce a full list of all user segments, their names, descriptions and user count, which together compose a taxonomy of human beings according to Twitter and its data brokers.

Twitter’s user segments are created on the basis “interests” and “behaviors” categories, wherebay interest derives from a users activity on Twitter, while behaviour is information collected by data-brokerage services that track users’ online activity outside Twitter. By linking internal and external sources — a practice known in the adtech industry as “data onboarding” — Twitter is able to tag its users with categories provided by the data brokers. Once data sets are linked, marketers can then target precise user segments based on different concatenations of demographic terms.

Using this list the artist wrote a computer programme which randomly selects two behavior categories and one interest category from the ad creation page, then overlays that text on top of automatically selected stock footage to generate an ad-like video.

The piece was first developed in such a way, that the program logs the artist in to Twitter, uploads the video, and auto-generates a new ad campaign, targeting the same groups used to generate the video. Users then see, in video form, the demographic categories that Twitter believes represent them.

The list sorted by user count can be seen in the displayed book together with the auto-generated ad-campaigns.

About the artist:

Sam Lavigne is an artist and educator whose work deals with data, surveillance, cops, natural language processing, and automation. He has exhibited work at Lincoln Center, SFMOMA, Pioneer Works, DIS, Ars Electronica, The New Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and his work has been covered in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Motherboard, Wired, the Atlantic, Forbes, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle, the World Almanac, the Ellen Degeneres Show and elsewhere. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at ITP/NYU, The New School, and the School for Poetic Computation, a 2016/2017 Magic Grant fellow at the Brown Institute at Columbia University, and is Special Projects editor at the New Inquiry Magazine.

This item is part of

Exhibition: Algorithmic Superstructures

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