October 18, 2020
Sophia Brueckner will be both giving an artist talk and exhibiting her project Captured by an Algorithm at the International Symposium on Electronic Art held this year in Montreal Oct 13-20.
ISEA’s mission aims to foster interdisciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organizations and individuals working with art, science and technology. ISEA 2020 turns towards the theme of “Why Sentience? Sentience describes the ability to feel or perceive. ISEA2020 will be fully dedicated to examining the resurgence of sentience—feeling-sensing-making sense—in recent art and design, media studies, science and technology studies, philosophy, anthropology, history of science and the natural scientific realm—notably biology, neuroscience and computing. We ask: why sentience? Why and how does sentience matter? Why have artists and scholars become interested in sensing and feeling beyond, with and around our strictly human bodies and selves? Why has this notion been brought to the fore in an array of disciplines in the 21st century?
Captured by an Algorithm is a commemorative plate series that looks at romance novels through the lens of the Amazon Kindle Popular Highlight algorithm. A passage in a Kindle e-book becomes a Popular Highlight after a certain number of people independently highlight the same passage. Popular Highlights show up as underlined when reading the book on Kindle. Each plate features one Popular Highlight from a romance novel and a landscape generated by running Photoshop’s Photomerge algorithm on romance novel covers. Over seventy thousand individual acts of highlighting were used to determine the content for this work telling the story of the loneliness, grief, vulnerability, and discontent felt by the readers. This work reveals a glimpse of a positive, anonymous social network emerging unintentionally through this Kindle feature. The project draws attention to this existing example of collective social support to change society’s vision for the future of social technologies.