Posts Tagged ‘art’

Big Bang Data at Somerset House in London, other exhibitions and interviews, and 5 million + cats!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

I Know Where Your Cat Lives will be featured at the new exhibition, Big Bang Data, opening today at Somerset House in London. This is a traveling exhibition curated by Olga Subirós and José Luis de Vicente.

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Emails, selfies, shopping transactions, Google searches, dating profiles: every day we’re producing data in huge quantities. Our online activity, alongside that of businesses and governments, has led to a massive explosion – a ‘Big Bang’ – of data.

This radical shift in the volume, variety and speed of data being produced, combined with new techniques for storage, access, and analysis, is what defines the proliferation of data. It is radically reshaping our world and is set to revolutionise everything we do.

Data today gives us new ways of doing things: from scientific research to business strategy, politics to social interaction, our new data-driven society that has the potential to be more fair, stable, and efficient and yet it also created a tools for unprecedented mass surveillance and commodification. Data access and usage rights, along with the value they comprise, are at the heart of many concerns.

Big Bang Data explores the issues surrounding the datafication of our world through the work of artists, designers, journalists and visionaries. As the data explosion accelerates, we ask if we really understand our relationship with data, and explore the meaning and implications of data for our future.

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The exhibition, which runs Dec 3, 2015—Feb 28, 2016, includes over 50 works by artists, designers and innovators, comprising also a number of authors I’ve long admired like:
Brendan Dawes, Charles Joseph Minard, David McCandless, Ellie Harrison, Eric Fischer, Erica Scourti, Eva and Franco Mattes, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, Florence Nightingale, Forensic Architecture, Future Cities Catapult, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Horst Ademeit, IF, Ingo Günther, Ingrid Burrington and Dan Williams, Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths, ITO World, Jaime Serra, James Bridle, John Snow, Jonathan Harris, Jonathan Minard, Julian Oliver, Julie Freeman, Kamel Makhloufi, Kiln, Laura Poitras, Lev Manovich and Moritz Stefaner, Lisa Jevbratt, Lise Autogena and Josh Portway, mySociety, Nesta, Nicholas Felton, Open Knowledge, OpenCorporates, Owen Mundy, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico, Philipp Adrian, Rafael Lozano Hemmer, Ryoji Ikeda, Safecast, Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi, Tekja, TeleGeography, The Guardian, The Long Now Foundation, Thomson and Craighead, Timo Arnall, Umbrellium, William Elford, and Zach Blas

Some press is emerging already and I’ll add more images as the show opens:

Meanwhile time for a…

2015 Update on IKWYCL

Just over a year ago I launched I Know Where Your Cat Lives and it immediately went viral. I’m gracious for all the positive attention the project has received, and even more so for the reach it generated. In addition to a notable influence on research and dialogue around metadata security, the impact for individuals has been significant. Over 25% of owners of cat photos from the original sample have removed or increased privacy on their images and, even more noteworthy, nearly 60% of users have chosen to leave their photos public but have manually removed their location data from the images they shared, underlining the importance of this project to experts in the field, as well as everyone who uses social media.

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Since then I’ve found time to evaluate the project’s impact and begin to work on the conclusion. The site I shared was only a prototype, containing just one million images from the at least 15 million tagged with #cat on social media. Thanks to everyone at FSU’s Research Computing Center, and to support from Dr. Ostrander at the FSU Office of Research, I’ve made great progress in collecting and visualizing the millions of images that users have unknowingly uploaded with geolocation data. With this exhibition at Somerset House I’m uploading another large dataset to bring the total number of cats to just under 5.4 million!

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The final project will include expanding the data set to run in real time, as well as a mobile app called “Like Tinder for Cats,” and a book project which contextualizes and documents the research, the technology I developed, and most importantly, the impact of this ephemeral web-based work on industry, academia, and culture. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to work with my longtime colleague and amazing writer, Shana Berger, on the writing for the project, the first essay of which is currently under review.

Highlights from the last year

The IKWYCL prototype website has already received press in Motherboard/Vice Magazine, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Wired Magazine, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. It has been featured in several international exhibitions including the Tempo Documentary Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, and numerous others like:

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I Know Where Your Cat Lives was nominated for a 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling at the International Documentary Film Association (IDFA) Festival. While ultimately the amazing Serial podcast took the prize, I was thrilled to be nominated among many great interactive documentary works including Miranda July’s conceptual app Somebody. Read more about IDFA DocLab in this review on We Make Money Not Art.

I was also excited to take part in the festival, not only as a presenter, but a mystery guest on the evening of my talk. Previously I had shared a selection of my Google searches with a team of experts who led a quiz style analysis of my search history, complete with an artist who did a rendering of what my family looked like according to my searches, and a chef who prepared food for the audience based on what my data revealed.

That same month found me giving a presentation on my work during the L2 Forum at the Morgan Library in New York City.

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While in NYC I also spoke at the LISA (Leaders in Software and Art) Salon at Postmasters Gallery

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In May 2015 it was featured among works by Trevor Paglen and Jason Salavon in the exhibition Art In The Age Of… Planetary Computation, at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam curated by Adam Kleinman. This was followed by an exhibit on interactive storytelling and the future of digital media at the Polish National Audiovisual Institute (NInA) in Warsaw curated by Anna Desponds.

Finally, I was very honored to be interviewed this summer for two separate European journalism projects around the cultural impact of technology.

Silvia Font published an extensive discussion which included many of my previous works for El Diario. The interview, Las fotos de tu gato en internet ponen en jaque tu privacidad (in Spanish), was part of a series that included interviews with Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum.

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And, Charles-Henry Groult interviewed me for an ARTE web special about people shaping the culture and politics of the internet. The interview is in English but the interface elements are only in French and German

The dialog with these professionals was really gratifying. I’m so glad to have created something that is so thought-provoking, has proven impact, and yet is extremely fun to use. Thanks to everyone for the support :-)

Owen Mundy on Arte

“Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet” and the last days for the kickstarter

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

It has been an intense couple weeks since my last post. It turns out the internet loves cats even more than data, maps, and politics. So here is an update on many things “cat”…

Update on the project

I Know Where Your Cat Lives has received an overwhelmingly positive response from international press. Besides photos of cats on a world map, there are charts, an FAQ and (now) links to press on the website.

I have to admit I specifically picked cat photos as an accessible medium with which to explore the privacy issue. Still, I was astounded at just how much the internet responded. It’s not only cats, the issue was important for discussion, and I appreciated that as well as the thoughtful responses from everyone. Even the puns.


The privacy implications of cat pictures (4:24) MSNBC Interview with Ronan Farrow


Meet The Guy Who’s Putting Your Cat On The Map — To Prove A Point (2:12) Interview with National Public Radio’s All Things Considered

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“If you have posted a picture of your cat online, data analyst and artist Owen Mundy, and now, the rest of the world, knows where it lives. And, by that logic, he knows where you live, too. That should probably creep you out a little bit, and that’s really the point.”

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“Using cat pictures — that essential building block of the Internet — and a supercomputer, a Florida State University professor has built a site that shows the locations of the cats (at least at some point in time, given their nature) and, presumably, of their owners.”

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“Attention all 4.9 million users of the #Catstagram hashtag: You’re being watched.”

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“I recognize that a single serving site like this should be easy to quit, but I’ve been refreshing for hours and looking at all the different cats of the world. Near, far, wherever they are, these cats just go on and on and on.”

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“If I put up a “cat” photo on Instagram, I am not just sharing a cat photo on Instagram. I am offering up data about my, and my cat’s, location. “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is, as a title, meant to be vaguely threatening.”

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“Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet. What were once innocuous photos of grumpy cats, tired cats, and fat cats, have now become adorable symbols of just how little privacy we have online.”

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Some charts

Because, charts.

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Traffic and hosting

So far 19,169 cats have been removed from the map due to privacy settings on their photographs being increased. I think this is awesome. And, it is also the ironic part of this project in that its success is measured in increased privacy. Meaning, the more people who are convinced to manage their data better, the less cats I will be able to represent on the map!

Truthfully speaking, I don’t think I have to worry about running out of cats, since this is a small portion of the total one million. And, I figured out a clever way to show this progress as it unfolds:

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The bandwidth and computing resources consumed by this project have been crazy. Even with a very fast Amazon EC2 server (high I/O computing-intensive 4XL server with 16 virtual cpus and 30 GB RAM) I watched the CPU hover at 100% for the entire day of The New York Times article. And this is after I put many hours indexing the database columns and making the scripts efficient in other ways. All told my bill for “going viral” was $1,019.73 (the month of July 2014).

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I used a few different logging tools to monitor the status of the server. Here are some basic stats (from awstats installed on the server) from the three weeks since I launched the project. This is for the requests and bandwidth on the EC2 server only. It does not include the actual cat photos, only the website itself (html, css, json, php, etc):

  • 353,734 unique visits
  • 14,141,644 pages (total clicks on the site)
  • 16,786,127 requests (additional files)
  • 8846.24 GB bandwidth (again, only text files)

I also used CloudFlare CDN (thanks for the tip Tim Schwartz!) to cache the site files and cat photos and serve the data from various locations around the world. This helped with the speed and to decrease my costs. Since all requests are routed through their DNS I believe their stats are likely the most reliable. According to CloudFlare, they served:

  • 20,631,228 total requests (3,089,020 of which were served through CloudFlare’s cache)
  • 10.2 TB bandwidth!! (437.3 GB of this data (site files and cat photos were served by CloudFlare)

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The Kickstarter has <3 days left!

And great news, thanks to 123 backers, including a big push from the awesome folks at Ghostery and Domi Ventures, the Kickstarter will be funded! There’s still time however, to help contribute to the number of years I can keep the site live while getting fun rewards from the project like I Know Where Your Cat Lives themed beer koozies and plush fish-shaped catnip-laced cat toys, as well as a limited edition signed I Know Where Your Cat Lives archival ink jet print. The kickstarter closes on Sat, Aug 9 2014 11:49 AM EDT.

Thanks again to everyone who supported the project. It’s been fun.


I Know Where Your Cat Lives launched

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I just launched a new ongoing project this week. Here’s the text, a video and some screenshots. I’ll post more about how I made it soon.

Welcome to the today’s internet—you can buy anything, every website is tracking your every move, and anywhere you look you find videos and images of cats. Currently, there are 15 million images tagged with the word “cat” on public image hosting sites, and daily thousands more are uploaded from unlimited positions on the globe.

“I Know Where Your Cat Lives” iknowwhereyourcatlives.com is a data experiment that visualizes a sample of 1 million public pics of cats on a world map, locating them by the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded in their metadata. The cats were accessed via publicly available APIs provided by popular photo sharing websites. The photos were then run through various clustering algorithms using a supercomputer at Florida State University in order to represent the enormity of the data source.

This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all. This website doesn’t visualize all of the cats on the net, only the ones that allow you to track where their owners have been.

Folks can also contribute to a kickstarter to help with hosting costs.

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Art and the Internet book published by Black Dog Publishing

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Here are some shots from the recently released Art and the Internet (Black Dog Publishing, London) with contributions from Joanne McNeil, Domenico Quaranta, and Nick Lambert. The book is a welcome update to writing on the subject and contains many well known works by artists I’ve admired for years. Nice to be included.

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Trust (Evidence Locker) (2004) Jill Magid. Essay by Joanne McNeil.

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Simple Net Art Diagram by MTAA (1997). Essay by Domenico Quaranta

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Colorflip.com (2008) by Rafaël Rozendaal

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Every Icon (1997) by John F Simon Jr

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Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me (2006) by Ryan Trecartin

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1:1 (1999-2002) by Lisa Jevbratt

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They Rule (2001) by Josh On

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My Generation (2010) by Eva and Franco Mattes

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Artist’s Statement No 45, 730,944: The Perfect Artistic Website (2000) Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries

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I am Unable to Fulfill Your Wish (2012) by Owen Mundy

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No-one Ever Cried At A Website (Speed Show) Friday, November 22

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

No-one Ever Cried At A Website (Speed Show)

November 22, 5:00–6:30 pm EST, Computer training room, Facility for Arts Research, 3216 Sessions Road, Tallahassee FL

With FSU students: Monique Boileau, Alexis Cooper, Jonathan Davito, Danielle English, Justin Greenstein, Antoinette Janus, Scotty Johnson, Melissa Lidsky, Michelle Medrano, Denise Morrow, Lena Weissbrot, Meghan “Red” Yancey. Curated by: Owen Mundy

Students from the Fall 2013 Network Art and Typography classes in the Department of Art at Florida State are staging an exhibition titled No-one Ever Cried At A Website (Speed Show) on November 22 5:00–6:30 pm EST at the computer training room in the Facility for Arts Research, Tallahassee FL.

The exhibition title is modified from an article called, “No-one Ever Cried At A Website,” written by artist/coder Matt Pearson. The document examines how emotion is often forgotten when analyzing technologically-sophisticated works of art such as those which exist on the internet. It reminds readers that painting was once a technology, and asks how beauty, empathy, and interaction can all be triggers for emotional response regardless of the medium for delivery. The prompt for the works in this show, created mostly collaboratively, over the course of 10 days, and specifically for this exhibition, is to address how emotion can be used to engage online audiences to look, listen, and be moved by internet-based art.

Speed Show exhibition, popularized by artist, Aram Barthol, are arranged as following: “Hit an Internet-cafe (or computer classroom), rent all computers they have and run a show on them for one night. All art works of the participating artists need to be on-line and are shown in a typical browser with standard plug-ins.”

Poster: Print resolution and E-mail resolution

After Douglas Davis – The World’s First Collaborative Sentence

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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README for After Douglas Davis
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Statement
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The World’s First Collaborative Sentence was created by Douglas Davis in 1994 and donated to the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1995. Much like today’s blog environments and methods for crowdsourcing knowledge, it allowed users to contribute practically any text or markup to a never-ending sentence with no limits on speech or length.

At some point the sentence stopped functioning, and in early 2012 the Whitney Museum undertook a “preservation effort” to repair and relaunch the project. Measures were taken during the “restoration” to stay true to the original intent of the artist, leaving dead links and the original code in place.

During the preservation the curators placed small sections of garbled ASCII text from the project on Github with the hope that others would “fork” the data and repair the original. However, the Whitney Museum did not succeed in realizing that the collaborative culture of the net Davis predicted has actually arrived. This is evident not only through sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Tumblr, but the open source movement, which brings us Linux, Apache, and PHP, the very technologies used to view this page, as well as others like Firefox, Arduino, Processing, and many more.

In the spirit of open source software and artists like Duchamp, Levine, runme.org and Mandiberg, on September 5, 2013, I “forked” Douglas Davis’ Collaborative Sentence by downloading all pages and constructing from scratch the functional code which drives the project. I have now placed this work on Github with the following changes:

1. All pages are updated to HTML5 and UTF-8 character encoding
2. The functional code was rewritten from scratch including a script to remove malicious code
3. The addition of this statement

I was originally disappointed the Whitney Museum didn’t place the full source code in the public domain. What better way to make it possible for artists and programmers to extend the life of Davis’ project by learning from, reusing, and improving the original code than to open source this work? Though, possibly like Davis, my motivation is largely in part an interest in constructing a space for dialog, framing distinct questions and new possibilities, and waiting to see what happens from this gesture.

Included software
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HTML Purifier http://htmlpurifier.org/

Live version
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Enter After Douglas Davis

About the author
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Owen Mundy http://owenmundy.com/

CYBER IN SECURITIES, Pepco Edison Place Gallery, Washington, DC

Friday, August 9th, 2013

CyberInSecurities_grid

clockwise l to r: Ricarada McDonald and Donna Szoke, and all watched over by machines of loving grace; Birgit Bachler, Walter Langelaar, Owen Mundy, and Tim Schwartz, Commodify.us; Lexie Mountain, Ball Hard; Whitefeather, Parent Folder

CYBER IN SECURITIES
Dates: August 30 – September 27, 2013
Location: Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Curated by: Lisa Moren, Professor, Department of Visual Art, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Participating Artists: Birgit Bachler, Walter Langelaar, Owen Mundy, and Tim Schwartz; Channel TWo (CH2): Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook, with Jesus Duran; Heather Dewey-Hagborg; Hasan Elahi; The Force of Freedom with Dave Young; Taylor Hokanson; Ricarda McDonald and Donna Szoke; Lexie Mountain; Preemptive Media; David Rokeby; Julia Kim Smith; and WhiteFeather

Opening Reception: Friday, August 30, 2013, 6-8pm
Exhibition Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 12pm-4pm

Experimental Media Video Screening Series
Juried by Jason Eppink, Associate Curator of Digital Media, Museum of the Moving Image, New York

Experimental Media Video Series Night One: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 6:30pm
Location: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media Video Series Night Two: Monday, September 24, 2013, 6:30pm
Location: The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, 500 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media Symposium: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Location: Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media 2013 will explore security, privacy, and surveillance in the digital age, through a gallery exhibition, video screenings series, and panel discussion.

Washington Post review of “Grid, Sequence Me” show + documentation

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

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The Washington Post recently published a review recently about my and Joelle’s exhibition at Flashpoint Gallery in D.C. Check it out: Joelle Dietrick & Owen Mundy: Grid, Sequence Me, by Maura Judkis, Jan 11, 2013.

A few elements will be recognizable, such as the brutalist outline of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, but many are stripped down to their most generic shapes, making rows of windows look like charts and bar graphs. The projections of some of those shapes echo and interplay with the forms of the Flashpoint gallery interior.

Dietrick and Mundy also scraped The Post’s listings of recent home sales, with architectural elements from some of those homes appearing before a dense thicket of live-streamed code. It’s a visual reminder of just how complicated the housing industry has become.

There’s a sense in the animation that the structures are tumbling away from you — just as homeownership has slipped out of the grip of many Americans. But the piece will elicit a different reaction here than in Florida, where the effects of the housing market crash have been far more pronounced. In Washington, we’ve mostly been insulated from it: Foreclosures are few, short sales are sparse. In the jumble of buildings and code, “Grid, Sequence Me,” may serve as a warning for those who haven’t experienced that sense of loss — but who indirectly, though policy work, may have influenced the systems that led to the crash.

I also finished a short piece with video from the installation and screen captures of the Processing visualization.

“Google” one-week performance at Transmediale

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

I am tele-participating in a one-week online performance of Google queries at Transmediale 2012 in Berlin. The project, plainly titled, “Google,” is organized by Johannes P. Osterhoff and will run from Jan 30 to Feb 5, 2012. Each participant edits the search method for their browser search bar so that everything they type in this box, from the personal to the mundane, becomes instantly visible at google-performance.org.

The project (“manifesto” below) makes public what Facebook, Google, and any online search engine, crowdsourcing website, or social network already does by harvesting searches from users, and re-representing that data in a new context. While Google uses these queries to build and sell condensed user demographic data to advertisers, Osterhoff’s project asks, who actually owns your search data?

We shall do an one-week performance piece.

The piece is called “Google” and documents all searches we perform withthe search engine of the same name.

The performance shall take place during transmediale 2012 and shall start on Monday, January 30 and shall end on Sunday, February 5, 2012.

We shall not use undocumented ways to use the search engine Google during this time.

Each of our search queries shall create a web page that is indexed by this search engine and thus makes our searches publicly available as search results for everybody.

 

A Single Composite [vert]

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Finally finding time to edit documentation from A Single Composite exhibition this summer in Berlin.

A Single Composite is a series of kinetic installations and projection apparatuses that stretch, twist, and loop film strips containing declassified and other found reconnaissance footage. Using reconstituted digital printer chassis, this cinematic enterprise is projected on walls, ceilings, and floors, to form a series of individual moments of surveillance and implied violence.