Machine Gaze

2023. Framed LCD screen with embedded CPU. Custom neural network.

The role of artificial intelligence in art has come to the forefront in recent years, making us ask questions about the very ownership of ideas. However, we’ve been living under the shadow of the question of ownership at least as long as social media has existed. Driven by profit motive, companies readily trade personal information for services and use the data to create profiles of our personalities. This personal information economy has become a proxy for property itself; a currency of sorts.

Machine Gaze in frame. 1022w, 300w, 768w

In my work Machine Gaze, a personal data portrait is generated by a custom program in a small computer embedded inside a picture frame. The program takes an archive of my social media posts and search history from 2005 until the present and uses it to produce an uncanny likeness representing my digital self as seen though the machine gaze. The resulting images are both a distortion and crystallization of my humanity as if the truth is both highlighted and obscured by the data. The simulated strokes of the work itself, while coming together to form human features and silhouettes, are literal visualizations of the mathematical properties and limits of a neural network as information is propagated through it.

This work was funded in part by a Make Learn Build grant from the RACC and produced while I was an artist in residence at Fountainhead Arts in Miami, FL in the fall of 2022. The creation of this work involved multiple iterations of the software, each step producing versions of my image that were used as the source for writing the next iteration of the program over the course of the past year.