Black Box is a mobile digital data cube; a tool and environment with which audience-led data can be created, monitored, explored, and manipulated. BB acts as a microscope to interrogate/investigate our increasingly complex relationship to private and public data. At 7ftx7ft, BB is capable of capturing/displaying 2D and 3D images, standard and binaural sound, video, VR, text and scans. Though a private space, the cube is transparent in that all data captured is accessible; showcasing the evolving life of data, over several years, through the eyes of different artists and the diverse citizens of the Black Box.
In the current digital landscape, we are always monitored, always exposed. We don’t mind sharing our data with faceless corporations, in fact we release our personal information on Facebook without a thought, for targeted advertising to predict, create and provide for our every need and desire. These systems of power don’t want to be exposed, but Black Box feels obligated to make these processes visible and tangible to it’s audience. In this ever-accelerating environment of data production and capture, Black Box harnesses data to produce research/stimuli that is relevant and sophisticated, yet also collaborative and emotionally engaging for human experience. Black Box is a tool of our times, capable of exploring data harvesting and our relationship between personal and public, identity and politics. Black Box is reflexive, questioning it’s own rules and terms, with projects exploring/interrogating our relationship to the digital/virtual world.
Black Box documents the physical and digital mapping of the data collected. It is autonomous, infinitely variable, and capable of enriching the work of artists whilst making art/artists out of it’s audience. Any data collected can then have a life of it’s own.
Black Box can be treated as a gallery or residency space for other artists, allowing for collaboration beyond simple participation. Artists can use Black Box to collect, create and show data based projects.
To give just a few examples of the infinite projects possible within Black Box:
• Facial recognition: Visitor can scan their face and compare/contrast against all visitor scans taken in space.
• Security scanner: Live session with a cyber security expert, uncovering all possible information available on an individual, dependent on the information provided. Outcome is to provide an overview of how secure their data is.
• 3D full body scan: Visitor is scanned in space. 3D scan will be used in a VR environment/program (for future viewing/interaction).
• Digital collaborations: Users can record audio, type text, use a touch pad to draw/paint, contributing to collaborative content, such as poems/drawings.
Black Box explores ‘trending’ data and systems of interpretation or control, and the ever-expanding universe of data being produced and consumed daily – as well as the politics of data-driven systems, as prophesized in science fiction. Using social systems as materials, Black Box interrogates the different ways that generative tools might be developed or utilised. It evolves as digital systems and behaviours grow to suit the ever-changing times we live in.
Black Box offers reflexive engagement with digital technology. For better or worse, museums and institutions are the channel through which you can reach, even in a superficial way, very large audiences. In a very indirect way, art can play a part in shaping what people think and talk about, and that can become part of the public discourse. Black Box has no delusions of grandeur; it is just one small piece in a large mosaic. But that one little piece can change the outlook of the whole mosaic.
Black Box is flat pack; simple to transport and assemble in both indoor and outdoor spaces. It is designed to be programmed remotely, work autonomously, and function with minimal assistance (after install). All data capture tools are housed in the walls of Black Box, to ensure it’s safety, security and longevity, and it is wired-up in advance, requiring only electricity and wifi. Alternatively Black Box can live off the energy from solar panels which powers a generator, rendering Black Box both sustainable and independent. Ownership rights of data from the Black Box can live on the ArtAngel and/or project website; whatever works best for the commissioning team. To ensure that data collected is safe and secure, access to the site and data could be via a digital/physical passport/ID number, a membership which tracks a user beyond their time in the Black Box.
Long-term, we aim for Black Box to be inhabited and used by a variety of different artists/creative producers who wish to explore and expand the Black Box using their own skills and experiences. We feel that it is important for Black Box to evolve and grow. Expanding the project for general artists’ use allows the project to take on a life of it’s own.