Human Machine

Working as part of a small team of three exhibitors/curators from our Making and Curating class we had to develop our work in response to the theme Human Machine—a title which, as a matter of fact, we proposed as the link to our current research-lead practices. Our current work involves the use of analogue tools and media to exhibit art, information, or a process which originally only exists in a digital form.

My current work, in particular, explores how the retrieval of personal data has become accessible to everyone after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—enforced in the EU from 25 May 2018—and how can this data be used to learn more about ourselves as individuals online and off.

Since the application of the GDPR laws, all online platforms operating in the EU and wishing to collect data about any of their visitors, have to ask for the consent from the user for this data to be collected and what are the purpose for its collection. Most websites still have the right to sell our personal information—age, location, nationality, interests, etc.—to other companies. Yet, this can now only happen if the user has given consent for their information to be collected and processed.

While working under the Human Machine umbrella, I have decided to focus on the data that I could retrieve from Twitter, the social media I spend most of my mindless time on. This how Three Years came to life.

I have been thinking about making this blog happen for so long

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Layered Text

“Where have I been in the past couple of months?” Nobody asked.

Most of my productive hours were spent copy-pasting words, formatting large rectangular chunks of texts, scrolling through fonts, snapping to guides, and obsessing over the proportion of things. Aside from all the other academic and gallery related work (yes, I am yet to write about this but I have recently started working with the Galleries at my University!) I have spent a good amount of time putting together a book. 

Three years, that is, is an important pit-stop in a 3 year-long journey—if it can even be called so. If you'd like to know more about the process of making the book and its installation happen I have written about this elsewhere on this blog. At the same time, I have also spent entire evenings creating my new website—which I'm really proud of. It took longer than expected to find a platform where I could host and showcase my entire portfolio of works as well as the blogs I keep. Moving from Persona.co where my main site was hosted and Tumblr & Medium where my blogs were over to Squarespace was not easy at all. It is a tedious and repetitive process—even more boring to write about. However, what is important is that finally and for the first time I now have all this in place and ready to be used both for my academic and personal projects.

New Alumni ‘19

New Alumni ‘19 is the first exhibition I’ve curated with Greenwich University Galleries.

Great works, lovely graphic design (love giving myself the best compliments💁), bright lights, neat showreels, and a seating area at the front (kindly donated by IKEA).

It is difficult for me to accept that I’ve actually designed a space at my University where people will spend time and enjoy themselves. Everyone I’ve shown the space to has been very generous and that is always great to hear, especially for something I’ve only just started doing. ❤

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A look at the first test print

This is the first test print of Three Years. I used a traditional inkjet printer for this because I was mainly looking to get a feel of the finished product. The book is currently being added onto the print on demand system Lulu.com, which also provided me with an ISBN for this book.

A proof copy of the bound edition is on its way. After checking the proof copy I will put the work up for sale on online platforms so that it should be available in time for the exhibition (held in late March). Lulu will act as my publisher. However, they retain 80% of the sales, which is not the most convenient and fair way to distribute your work. For this reason, I am currently looking at other providers and how the service and quality of printing they offer will compare to Lulu’s.

Read More

Three Years: An Introduction

20th February 2019

During the past few weeks, I’ve been working on putting together a book: an automatically-created biographical archive. I say putting together and not writing because the book was already written. Between 2016 and 2019 I’ve written this book 140 (and later 280—don’t worry, I will explain!) characters at a time. You have probably written something similar too.

While I was busy adding entries on my analogue (paper) journal, which I started less than a year ago, I realised I had already been writing my thoughts and “sharing” my views on a public platform.

If you visit my Twitter account you can look and interact with my writings, like them, share them, repost them on your account, or leave a nasty comment underneath them.

I started my current account—@frn_imola—in April 2016. I had just left the UK and moved to Italy waiting to come back a few months later to live in the North-West of England. Since then my life has changed completely.

I left home, moved house three times, worked at least 10 jobs (over the period of these three years, not simultaneously!), have been in relationships, met plenty of people, made a few friends, came out publicly, had a couple of family traumas, my depression and anxiety intensified, got better at cooking and writing, started University, made music and several artworks. And the list goes on for much longer.

Considering I have been constantly tweeting during the course of these three years, what do these tweets say about me and my story? What do they tell about my persona, my identity, and my mental health—with its frequent ups and downs?

Can an archive be a tool to learn more about oneself?

I am interested in working with such tools because they allow me to bring my data to life in a physical form. I believe personal data paints a peculiar picture on oneself: a picture which is not entirely different from that which we display outside the web, but one which adds up to who we are. Your online self is just another face of the prism that it is you.

Three years is a collection of all that I’ve tweeted during the past three years. The first picture below shows the current cover of the book, which will be soon sent to out for test-printing. The second image is a mockup, or experiment, of an installation of the book as part of a pop-up exhibition that will be held in the Heritage Gallery in Greenwich, London at the end of March 2019.

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Dating apps meet GDPR

On Saturday 9 February I asked Chappy, a gay dating app I have been using for the past couple of weeks, to send me all my data, which should include a log of every conversation I have had through the platform. I am planning to make poetry out of these messages.

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Uumwelt

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French philosopher and artist Pierre Huyghe brings his exhibition “Uumwelt” to the Serpentine Galleries.

The works shown are moving reproductions of images developed through brain scans of people being asked to think about a specific object. At times, the images created in the mind of the beholder resemble so well those of existing things or animals that it is difficult to imagine these being imaginary reconstructions created by someone’s mind.

Buzzing through the Serpentine are sporadic flies, born and bred and fed on sugar to die in the gallery. They, too, are attracted to the glowing screens. The presence of flies helps make sense of the title of the show—and German word—uumwelt: a way of seeing the world that is all our own. This is particular to flies which see if differently with their minuscule eyes and particular to each human being.

Failed ideas

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This was taken last week while working on one of my current projects.

I was trying to build the layout for a book by intersecting data representing all the videos I’ve played on Youtube with images taken roughly during the same time. I have later decided to put this idea on hold and started to delve further into the type of data (textual information) that could be interesting to use in the context of a book.