IMPAKT x Cairotronica

November 2019 saw the commencement of a 6-month collaboration between IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture and Cairotronica, which focuses at the transformations at the turn of the century and specifically at the of the self and the ecologies we inhabit. The project We Are Data explores the digital and analogue ways in which we, with our bodies and behavior, and our urban environments, are signifiers in a data driven society and how we can support creativity, autonomy and agency in these processes. 

We Are Data

With each gesture we make and every act we undertake we transfer information, information that is part of our interaction with the people that are close to us and with the institutions and concepts that define our society. In the past these processes mostly happened directly from one human to the other, without an intermediate. With technological developments in the 20th century, the invention of the Internet and the rise of big data, this situation has changed radically. We have created systems that record and archive almost everything we do and virtual realms to mirror the physical world we live in. We’ve filled our habitats with datafied objects and more and more we have become sets of data ourselves. What we do and how we express ourselves is tracked, quantified and coded. The datafied individual is categorised and stored in massive databases that are built and managed by companies and governments. With the incentive of increasing connectivity, we are subsequently being converted to profitable products that can be quantified and controlled. In turn, through systems of predictive analytics and micro-targeting, the amounts of private data we are handing over every day of our life, is unprecedented. What will happen now that the way these systems function is determined more and more by artificial intelligence and algorithms?

The project is being realized by artists from Cairo and Netherlands (Sabrina Verhage, Jeroen van Loon and Coralie Vogelaar), who come together for a series of workshops, meet-ups, seminars and lectures. The participants of the workshops are introduced to ways of visualizing and analyzing data, speculative design for socio-technical futures, politics and biases of machine learning and data mapping processes. 

We have successfully completed four of the six workshops of the series. The fifth workshop, organized by Jeroen van Loon, could only be organized in part due to severe weather in Cairo with heavy rains and floodings. The sixth workshop, organized by Sabrina Verhage can not take place because of Corona related travel restrictions. We are currently researching the ways to organize this workshop in an online format. The collaboration will see its culmination with presentations by the participants, partners and artists at the 3rd edition of Cairotronica 2020 as well as at the IMPAKT Festival 2020.


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