The application of algorithms dictates what we see online––what we watch and share, what we buy, etc. They make the world visible, and this visibility influences our interests, and perhaps even our identity. How much, then, is my interest in cinema, video production and editing, color correction, video games, French philosophers, designer footware––anything––a system of functions repeatedly solved by algorithms?
The author is watching animals sing the Twin Peaks theme song. The web suggests other videos of farm animal harmonies, but it also recommends videos of men shooting a crystal ball with an assault rifle. Who is this third author? If the author watching sees in the first person, and the algorithm solves for a “you” in the second person, can there be a 3rd person, climbing down between these two?
Repetition is important here. Virtual life is purposely habit forming. Even in an attempt to fool an application, unconscious repetition yields accurate results of what the user wants to see or buy, or, as so many videos are monetized, buy by seeing. Can these habits be something other than rote? Can they be refrains, emphasizing a passage between chorus and verse? Can this sense of repetition personify the same way it influences. If watching certain videos trigger the algorithm to present advertisements of a political candidate I don’t support, is it a mistake? Echoing Benjamin, what happens if we take these deviations as connections, rather than dismissing them as derivations?
If these deviations could form an architecture of virtual selfhood, can this architecture be looked through in the same way Sigfried Gideon described looking through the bars of the Tour D’Eiffel and Pont Transbordeur?
This project combines text and found video to confront the simultaneous, repetitive structures of virtual life. I will edit video culled from online sources, with an emphasis on what algorithms show me. The source material might include anything from streaming service recommendations to YouTube spirals. I may also choose to incorporate images or Wikipedia articles. Each (very) short film will stem from an input––the answer to a repetitive question that (hopefully) evokes the mixture of boredom and FOMO that can shape our online preferences, leading us to both sincere discovery (say, a new book, TV show, or film that speaks to us), but also leads us toward entertainment or commerce, a new pair of Doc Martens or a spiral of viral Vines or Tiktok videos. But are these deviations from good sense (or good taste), any less intellectual? I intend the effect to be aleatory, disorienting––both irreverent and perhaps also moving or disturbing. The point isn’t to come up with a thesis, or even a hypothesis, but instead to wander within the surreal collage that AI can inspire in the user.
A cycle: famished and distracted
A hazard: heavy but malleable
A distraction: dead damn refreshing