DATA IDENTITIES is dealing with new forms of personal identification as our identities shift more and more into a hybrid state between physical and digital realities. The use of the fingerprint as the ultimate identification tool has been exposed to be flawed and it becomes easier to alter body features like the face or hands that are used for identification, using not only traditional plastic surgery but synthetic biology and tissue printing as tools for identity forgery. As we start to digitalise our unique physical activities and status with logging mechanisms and sensors, we might be ready to leave identification through static physical features behind and create a new digital form of identification.
DATA IDENTITIES presents the narrative of a fictional government agency, the DID, that develops the prototype for a new passport, not based on physical features, but on constantly measured physical and digital behaviour presents a document as unsteady as the data it is created by, yet uniquely shaped by its owners actions. In the process of creating the work, we took the role of members of this fictional government agency, so that our own process became part of the fictional process shown in the project.
The narrative is presented through an interactive installation that allows the visitor to explore mechanisms and technological potentials of life logging and data analysis and test digital prototypes of the passport identity visualisations by manipulating identity datasets. Accompanying documents, presented on wooden clipboards, show the discussions of the fictional characters who create this new passport. The project is meant to provide deep insight into the technology and the potentials (positive and negative) that currently exist around personal data. It is raising questions about data logging, privacy and the relationship of the individual to its invisible trail of data.
DATA IDENTITIES was initially commissioned for LifeloggingLab, an Exhibition by Science Gallery Dublin, where it is on show from 13/02/15 until 17/04/15.
Six emails present glimpses of the Data Identity Division's process. Each document is giving more detailed information on the plans for digital identity visualisations in passports, methods of data logging and analysing, technological approaches and logistics for an interactive passport and data identity profiles, data visualisation and the fictional approaches of the DID to prototype the passport. Inspired by documents from leaked government data, the emails create an engaging context for the speculative nature of the work and hint at the real world technologies, laws and players that take part in logging data of individuals.
Three approaches to visualize data identity profiles are shown in the project. Each row of visualizations shows steps of the process in which the DID developed these visual prototypes. Using fictional identity datasets that include data like location, stepcount, heartrate, financial transactions, contacted persons, preference in shopping/music/movies and knowledge about politics, science or religion the visualisations become a sort of digital fingerprint or passport photo that is unique for every individual and constantly changes with new data being gathered.
In the interactive installation the visualizations can be altered in realtime through a touchscreen interface. By creating new data through different interactions on the screen a prototype data identity profile can be altered and changes in the visualization can be seen immediately. The interface allows to get a deeper insight into some of the mechanisms of data analysis and interpretation and the visual feedback gives an idea of how a passport based on your digital features and not your physical features might look like.
We are currently working on making the interface and visualizations accessible through our website.
DATA IDENTITIES is a proto/meta project commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin
thanks to Benjamin Skirlo for backend development
thanks to Tim Clark for production assistance