Somestic MediaYear: 2018
Commission: New Talent Cohort, Pervasive Media Studio
Collaborators: Jon Flint
Somestic Media defines a trio of connected objects, retrofitting complex social media interactions within the domestic appliances from the last century. An alarm clock, a radio, and a TV, distill and encompass our mundane digisocial dilemmas, from stalking, to swipe-right and FOMO.
Each device pulls, processes and displays specific data from a major social network. However, the output of each device simply reports its information, depriving the user of any two-way interactions we are accustomed to in the digital age. This enforced isolation amplifies and exposes the presumably frictionless communication processes orchestrated by complex social media algorithms. The Somestic Media suite includes:
‘LastSeen’ — an alarm clock that goes off when a person of interest comes back online on Facebook, keeping track of how long ago the target individual was last active on the platform.
‘SoulMate’ — a radio that uses text synthesis to read the profiles of potential romantic partners on Tinder out loud and includes a special “Follow Mode” that can be accessed via a key switch, giving an accurate distance to each of your existing matches, and
‘BreakingViews’ — a television that displays Instagram stories from your feed and keeps track of how many times you have replayed a specific story.
The saturated display of the collected data conveys the impact social-media has on our perception of time, distance, and priority. Whose online presence do you follow, and why? What information on dating profiles is important, apart from the profile picture? What type of content — news or views — do we prefer and why?
The aim of Somestic Media is to critically render social media processes, make them more tangible. Such exposure is vital for understanding how the new technologies change the way we live and socialise, and the information we take for granted.
Beyond this installation, we envision running a series of workshops, using the objects’ technical frameworks, base code and electronics. We hope to promote discussion around digital social standards, and the consequences of their leak into the physical world. In particular, we are interested in tackling topics such as digital empowerment, post-consumerism, trolling and cyberbullying, and data privacy. You can find more information about the project here.
New Talent Cohort, Pervasive Media Studio