Do You Like Cyber?, 2016-2017. Ten parametric speakers, Arduino-controlled robotic arms, 10-channels multimedia sound installation.
Do You Like Cyber? is a sound installation composed of ten parametric speakers attached to the ceiling and the walls of an exhibition venue. Parametric speakers are similar to lasers in that they radiate sound in a single focused direction – as opposed to conventional speakers, which spread the sound in all directions. Additionally, the sound bounces off hard surfaces such as walls, creating virtual sound sources and making it difficult to detect its origin.
Playing with the idea of deceitful messages, the speakers in Do You Like Cyber? broadcast a series of short audio messages that were used by bots on the dating website Ashley Madison, which I retrieved after the site was hacked. These bots were programmed to engage the website’s users in online chats, getting them to subscribe to the website’s services. Despite the fact that the bots were designed to only contact males, they didn’t always function as they should have. This work focuses on a series of insubordinate bots that, in a post-anthropocentric fashion, displayed anarchic and unpredictable behaviors, such as chatting with each other for no apparent reason or contacting female users even if they weren’t programmed to do so. Do you like Cyber? puts the autonomy and interaction between artificial entities at its center, while leaving humans only partially aware of their presence. The public will be both engaged and eluded by the fragmented symphony of broken conversations that, bouncing from one side to the other of the exhibition space, transform a networked activity into a sensorial experience.
Complete list of messages used by Ashley Madison’s bots included in the sound installation:
/ are you logged in? / care to chat? / I’m online now / I’m here | come chat 🙂 / come say hello / my chat is on now / are you online? / Feel like chatting? / chat now? / do you like cyber? / cyber sex ? / care to cyber? / u into cyber? / How are you? Feel like chatting? / cybering good with you? / how’s your day? wanna chat? / wanna cyber? / want to sex chat? / how’s your cyber skills 😉 / are you at your computer? / So how long have you been here? Met any interesting people? /
- 30th Stuttgarter Filmwinter – Festival of Expanded Media, curated by Wand 5, Kunstbezirk, Stuttgart, Germany
+ INFO: The Ashley Madison database includes 857 mysterious lesbian fembots profiles and in 69 occasions these fembots messaged each other. Special thanks to Annalee Newitz for her help with interpreting the bot-related data and to Kevin Ramsay for the sound editing.