An exhibition at La Nau Cultural Centre demonstrates how our digital footprints create biographies of data and condition everyday decisions

  • Press Office
  • June 1st, 2023
Ester Alba, Clara Boj, Diego Díaz and Pau Waelder.
Ester Alba, Clara Boj, Diego Díaz and Pau Waelder.

La Nau Cultural Centre premiered the exhibition ‘Autoretrat o doble digital’ (Self-portrait or Digital Double) in the General Studies Hall that reflects on the creation of personal profiles through the collection of data in the digital sphere and their use in shaping our existence. The exhibition, which can be visited until the 3 September, was presented by Ester Alba, Vice-President of Culture and Society, project artists Clara Boj and Diego Díaz, and by the exhibition’s curator, Pau Waelder.

The purpose of the exhibition is to demonstrate how digital services create biographies for each person from the information that is collected via mobile phones. The data collected by the artists Clara Boj and Diejo Díaz throughout 2017 is displayed in the exhibition. The work condemns how contemporary existence leads to an immense archive of databases that are updated in real time and capture every instant of our lives both online and offline through the records that the devices around us capture of the world and our presence within it.

The digitalisation of the physical world has transformed data networks into a massive information space that has gone virtually unnoticed by the public, but that nurtures market studies, analysis and predictive algorithms that model our existence. In this way, the exhibition makes it evident that when someone searches on the Internet, they are not only accessing information, but also providing information about their interests and questions. This dialogue is compounded as a digital double resulting from the creation of a profile, in the form of a robotic portrait, of the likes/dislikes, social habits, consumer habits and interactions with other doubles. This profile is the subject of marketing operations, advertising, sociological or opinion studies that have an effect on an individual's decision making process, choices and way of thinking.

In 2017, Clara Boj and Diego Díaz started a project based on the information digital services collected on them each day. They created a ‘Data Biography’ that rounded up all of the information that their mobile phones shared and compiled it into 365 books of 32,000 pages, the contents of which are wallpapered across the General Studies Hall. In 2019, they took the project to the next level by creating a machine biography that used the collected data to predict the activity of the artists in 2050.

This exhibition in La Nau contrasts the two works with a series of pieces derived from them and adds to past and future biographies, another set in the present (current date), which shows Clara and Diego’s everyday life through the TikTok app. Furthermore, the exhibition shows the magnitude and complexity of digital archives and explores the implications of these records in key aspects of life such as intimacy, privacy, the definition of personal judgement and safety.

According to the words of both artists, “everything is quantifiable, Artificial Intelligence shapes our lives without us being fully aware of the risks it poses.” Through ‘Self-Potrait and Digital Double,’ Boj and Díaz take a contemporary look at the biography of an individual. “With this work we have created a classic self-portrait with modern techniques such as forensic analysis of our personal online data.”

The Vice-President of Culture and Society, Ester Alba, has commented that the exhibition “offers us a variety of perspectives from which to reflex on the challenges and obstacles that Artificial Intelligence poses, both presently and in the future, and how AI conditions us as a society.” The vice-president thanked all those involved in making the exhibition possible and those that worked to convert the General Studies Hall of La Nau into “a living architecture with all the data and images covering its walls.”

In the words of the exhibition’s curator, Pau Waelder, “continuing in the tradition of self-portraiture, the artists have engaged in a dialogue with their digital doubles and have invited the public to reflect on the data they are generating on a daily basis. It’s possible that our data, as well, could occupy innumerable pages in a book and cover the walls of this hall.”

File in: Exposicions , Cultura