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Where are You? by Yu-Chuan Tseng, Sheng-Po Shen, Yi-Ching Huang,  Wei-Ting Chen

Wei-Ting Chen, Yu-Chuan Tseng, Yi-Ching Huang, Sheng-Po Shen(from left to right)

Wei-Ting Chen, Yu-Chuan Tseng, Yi-Ching Huang, Sheng-Po Shen(from left to right)

Exhibition Record:

2010 Where are You? Exhibition in Sly Art Space, Taipei

2010 Taiwan Digital Art Pulse Stream Plan- The First Phase; “Body, Gender, Technology” Digital Art Exhibition, Digital Art Center, Taipei

2010Cluster” Digital Art Festival Taipei 2010, Bopiliao Historic Block, Taipei2010

Artist Statement:

Where are you?(2010) is a digital portrait of the entirety of humankind. It is created by gathering the portraits of millions of individuals from many different locations on the Internet. In traditional art, the portrait expresses and confirms the presence of a person, however, in the digital age our individual presence is lost to a larger network of signifiers all merging together in an information flow. When we are photographed through the digital cameras, our image becomes a signal in a process of re/coding 0 and 1 digits, which when uploaded on the Internet add too all existing digits of other individual portraits. Thus, the digital networked process restructures the presence of an individual being into a totality of beings—the portrait is of anyone and no one.

Interactive Process

In the exhibition space a cloth-screen hangs down from the ceiling. Two projectors beam a dark sky onto it. Above the sky, there is a map of the Earth. In front of the projection there is set up an iPod touch-screen which function as an input interface. When participants input a name they send out a search request to the system, and the system queries all photos published on the Internet in albums such as Flickr, looking for matching tags in real time. When found, the photo is fetched, transformed into blue dots, and placed on the earth map according to their GPS position on the top of scroll. Individual blue dots change into stars and pour down like streems of water. They then transform to the original photos to show the search result clearly. During the process, the faces on the photos are identified and chosen by using face recognition system. All the chosen faces are merged into a digital portrait. The larger digital portrait flows slowly to the bottom of the projection screen until it disappears and process starts again.

Subject matter

Where are you? (2010) utilizes individual photo-portraites published on the Internet to create a fuzzy portrait representing a collective digitally composed being. The transformation of the individual photos into stars and strings pays homage to the totality of existence and the flowing web of life. It also questions human existence in the digital era. When participant inputs a name, they expects to see a particular person. However, the search result is not always the expected photo as this depends on the given tags. The digital portrait is not the portrait of a specific person but a signifier of a name.

System Framework

The whole system is composed of two components: input interface and computing center. We use iPod touch as input interface and the code is written by openFrameworks and Objetive-c. The screen of iPod touch contains input box and waiting list. Ipod touch would extract strings from input box and store them with the current time locally. Those strings are inserted to a waiting list. Furthermore, iPod touch would send those data to mac mini through OSC protocol in a local network. Mac mini is used as a backend computing center. The code in it is written by Processing. When computing center receive the string via OSC protocol, it would use the string to query top 20 pictures from Flickr, a popular online social album on the Internet. We use image processing algorithm to mix each pixel of those pictures and output an unique picture after multiple overlapping. In data visualization, we put those pictures on different position in global map based on the location metadata of each picture. Those pictures would move slowly from top to bottom and finally display an unique mixed picture which is comprised of 20 pictures. After finishing the process, computing center would send a complete message to iPod touch and iPod touch would kill the strings from its buffer.

Conclusion

The digital system encoded and joins individual units and integral systems together by means of digital devices. The system union—creating a matrix, a place of digital survival—is a brand new world of us. The new union seems extend human life allowing it to be anywhere, but nowhere. By editing and regrouping the codes, we capture and manipulate telecommunication signals in order to express a totality of human presence on the Internet, and thus a totality of human existence.

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