Elie Zananiri

All computer use stores visual data. The graphics card is basically recording a history of all recent activity on the machine. The core of Scrape is a custom software that retrieves the data from a computer graphics card when triggered. This found data is interpreted and represented visually, creating a beautiful, abstract mosaic of sometimes chaotic and sometimes recognizable tiles of information.

The software is used in the three modules that make up Scrape.

The first module is an interactive installation piece. A room is furnished with two computers and six monitors on a desk, reminiscent of a security office in a mall or an office building. Visitors are invited to use the computers, where Scrape is running in the background, collecting data in real-time and feeding it to the monitors. This allows the users to directly see the contents of the scrapes and the relationship between their actions and the displays.

The second module is an exhibition of large format self-portraits produced with the software. The prints will be selected images generated by Scrape, offering a snapshot of the collected data characterizing its users. Visually, the pieces will ally the repetition patterns and singularity of collage art, resulting in compositions that are both beautiful and representative of their creators.

The last module is an online service where users can upload their scrapes to a gallery. The uploads can be shared with other users and hyperlinked to already-existing social networks. The idea is to answer the popular “What are you doing?” question –which is at the core of services such as Facebook and Twitter– using a unique and personal visual badge. Instead of redefining your identity through written status updates, the visual scrape exposes your “computational state” impartially and uncritically.

On one hand, Scrape is a reminder of the amount of trust we put into computers and the people who program them, by exposing the traces we leave behind unaware. On the other, the project explores the tell-all attitude characterizing our online social interaction, and the unconditional acceptance of our virtual audience.

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010