dataDouble is a project designed to illuminate the ways in which our identities are flattened and reduced by data collection. finding inspiration in the idea of the “data clone”, a likeness developed out of the digital traces that we (voluntarily or involuntarily) leave behind in our day to day interactions with technology, the project seeks to translate an individual user’s browsing data into a visual interpretation of how they are seen in the eyes of those extracting their information. .
the core of dataDouble consists of a web browser extension (currently operating in google chrome; soon to be developed for firefox) which locally collects a user’s browsing data cumulatively from the time of installation. upon installing, the user will also be prompted to upload a photo of themselves, which will be continually altered and shaped into a portrait of a user’s “data clone” by applying image manipulation techniques that directly correlate to the amount and type of data collected from their browsing habits.
over time, the image, while still somewhat recognizable as a portrait of the individual user, becomes a warped and alternate representation of the self; the reduced, flattened version that is used as a basis for the extremely segmented experience that users have on the internet today.
the first iteration of the project was completed in december of 2018 as a prototype, and was entirely based in the web browser; going forward, i will expand the work beyond the screen-based form in which it currently exists by working with volunteer participants to collect their data through the extension over a period of time ranging from a week to a month, and creating printed or sculptural representations of the generated clone portraits. by removing the portraits of the clones from the screen, a virtual world in which they typically reside, i aim to call into question the two-dimensionality of this view of our data-selves that is offered up to the world, through technology which ostensibly exists to personalize and tailor our experiences.
special thanks to wendy chun for assistance in conceptual development; and the philadelphia area creative collaboratives for giving me space and resources to continue work on this project in spring of 2019.