While the advertising industry heralds the use of digital communication technologies as a form of individual empowerment and self-efficacy, people’s interactions with their devices are proving to also have significant negative effects on society. The poem is situated in the near future, when the collection of personal information will be achieved by individual activities online, by the contributions carried out by other people, and through sensors that are part of the Internet of Things. The personal data, aggregated, will be processed at very high speeds with the assistance of artificial intelligence. As it happens in this generative video poem, unique pieces of audiovisual media will be created on-the-fly to achieve persuasive objectives based on individual profiles. The combination between the massive collection of personal data and its subsequent statistical processing, aimed at achieving persuasive objectives, will push us towards a terrible reality. Ultimately, the logic of statistics will be used to define human existence individually and socially in a deterministic way and, unfortunately, it will be guided mostly by commercial interests.
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Newlyn PZ International Film Festival 2020, Penzanse, United Kingdom (March 2020) / ARTS and Sustainable Development Goals Online Festival, Brooklyn, USA (April 2020) / Cadence Video Poetry Festival, Seattle, USA (April 2020) / Hello World, Transcultural Exchange, Boston, USA (June 2020) / Athens Digital Arts Festival, Athens, Greece (July-Sep, 2020) / 4° Festival ECRÃ of Audiovisual Experimentations, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Aug, 2020) / The Banality of Evil in our Daily Lives, Berlin, Germany (Sep-Oct, 2020) / International Poetry Film Festival of Thuringia, Bauhaus University Weimar and the Literary Society Thuringia, Weimar, Germany (Oct, 2020) / The 2020 Film and Video Poetry Symposium, Pasadena, USA (Oct-Dec 2020) / Festival de Cortometraje Universitario, Universidad Vasco de Quiroga, Morelia, México (Nov, 2020) / Festival Fotogenia, Posgrado de Arte y Diseño, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Nov, 2020) / Festival Internacional de Videopoesía Videobardo, Buenos Aires, Argentina (TBD, 2021), 9th International Video Poetry Festival, Athens, Greece (March, 2021), Experiments in Cinema 16, Albuquerque, USA (May, 2021)
CSUS Arts and Letters Faculty Exhibition, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, USA (Oct-Nov 2019) / Web Biennal Apeiron, Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (May 2020) / The FL3TCH3ER Exhibit, Socially and Politically Engaged Art, Reece Museum, East Tennessee State University, Tennessee, USA (Oct-Dec 2020)
Publication and Presentations
Academic Journal: FLAT Journal, UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and Carnegie Mellon University School of Art (2020) Presentations: Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires sur les Mondes Ibériques Contemporains, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France (2019) / Feria Internacional del Libro del Estado de México, Toluca, México (2019) / Platforming Utopias (and Platformed Dystopias), Electronic Literature Organization, Online (May 2021) / Association for the Computers and the Humanities Conference (July, 2021)
Big Data is a term used to describe, in general, the gathering of vast amounts of digital information and its subsequent processing, through sophisticated computational techniques, with the purpose of obtaining knowledge.
In the case of Big Data, the poem, the term refers to the massive collection of personal information communicated online and its processing for commercial purposes, especially for-profit endeavors related to a persuasion achieved through the detailed knowledge of individuals, a persuasion aimed to be invisible.
Video presentation for the ARTS and Sustainable Development Goals Online Festival, Brooklyn, USA (April 2020) - English
The poem is not situated in the present but in the near future, when the collection of personal information will be achieved by individual activities online, by the contributions carried out by other people and by sensors that are part of the Internet of things. The personal data, aggregated, will be processed at very high speeds with the assistance of artificial intelligence. The combination between the massive collection of personal data and its subsequent statistical processing, with that emphasis on inferential statistics to achieve persuasive objectives, will lead to a terrible reality. In general, the logic of statistics will be used to define human existence individually and socially in a deterministic way. Big Data's resulting knowledge, the poem suggests, is equivalent to the omniscience generally attributed to deities.
The poem is not a linear poem, it is a poem that regenerates itself differently each time a program is run. The sequencing of the lines of the poem has been carefully developed to always achieve, in each regeneration, appropriate grammatical and semantic structures (in Spanish). The random processes that make the poem always different are bounded and conditioned by pre-established “paths” imposed through programming. This automated construction of the poem suggests that the regeneration of messages in real-time, with persuasive intent, based on personal profiles, is feasible in the near future.
The presentation of each new sequencing of the poem is carried out by 30 Mexicans living in Mexico City. People's faces and the way they read the poem (their voices and gestures) are intended to expand the perception of a database composed of human profiles. At the same time, these people are the ones who persuade their peers. The presentation of the poem through an audiovisual medium creates a continuity that hides the automatic editing of the piece through regenerative processes.
The countless possible sequencings of the poem Big Data can be thought of like a fractal, that is, different and similar visual elements constrained by a series of mathematical rules.
Video presentation for the 13ª edición Festival de Cortometraje Universitario UVAQ (Universidad Vazco de Quiroga) Michoacán, México (Nov, 2020) - Spanish
Each poem sequencing has different fragments of an actual fractal that can be understood as the human behavior inside the database. The fractal created for the poem Big Data shows landscapes with millions of information points. Those landscapes contain geometric figures, cubes made of smaller cubes that are made of even smaller cubes, simulating a three-dimensional database. These structures, as a whole, expand and contract rhythmically, seeming to breathe. The landscapes also have columns where there seems to be large amounts of information in motion. The visualizations provided by the fractal are very beautiful and are somewhat frightening when they are shown in the context of the poem. The database represented is immense, deep, detailed and in perpetual motion.
The sound design integrates all the parts making them a unitary piece. The amalgamation of the audiovisuals of each regenerated poem acquires an emotional nuance too. The electroacoustic composition establishes tones, accents and sound patterns which also talk about the Big Data concept, the role of computers in our auditory environment and its way of operating based on electricity. The electroacoustic design is also uniquely constructed for each regeneration and provides similar nuances to each poem.
Concept, poem, programming
Concept, poem, sequencing
Miguel Ortiz Ulloa
Diego Bonilla - Rodolfo Mata
(Transl. Madeleine Stratford)
We do not know you, but we know you quite well
we have come to know you through the millions of people
who, like you,
have left their digital footprints here in the database.
Based on our statistical data, we can tell you that you follow the standard pattern
that your scores come quite close to the global average
We know that
you are not alone or outside the bell curve
We can confirm
that you are only one among many
that our relationship
is of the utmost importance
As one decision connects to the next
consider that our precise inferential method
can predict the future of your luminescent trail
By computing billions of digital dots
spread out like stars across your own personal sky
we can chart your psyche
your mathematical profile
We sincerely thank you for your constant contribution
granting us a detailed account of your surroundings
everywhere you have been
among us in the virtual realm
Your digital participation
provided daily and blindly
will give us cause to dominate your angry fits
and calm your fears
and make you blend in with the others
when you join our community
It is clear to us
that you may be disturbed by your digital reflection
let it go
do not strive to stand out
in our sea of data – you will only succeed in switching categories
let it go
do not sell a false image of yourself
You alone do not matter
Every single one of you
Let us pray for you
our infallible formulae will process your generic self
modeling our fantastic cocreation in real time
as we walk you over to a fuller existence
Let us pray for you
do not think that your will alone is strong enough
to wipe your profile from our registries
No one knows you better
that is why we are here
browsing with you, leading you wherever you like
Every time you need to tailor your choices to secure your future
a bright future of your own
we will draw the exact features of your face
a backlit design
Believe in us
join us willingly
connect with our omniscience
The others let us know your every move
and the odds of making a mistake as we create you
are very low.
And if you still resist us
if you would rather join millions of delusional fools in anonymous
may you be warned:
you have nothing to do with this
others are making you into someone
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