What am I？Am I a human, a machine, or a product?
"From the perspective of an all-knowing, all-seeing machine, how would I, a human, be seen?
“Daily Dividuals” is a series of avatar-based, Augmented Reality body sculptures of surreal scenes from everyday life in an imaginary future, in which the roles of human and machine are purposely reversed.
Combining social commentary and satire, this project reflects alienation of and between individuals and their surrounding environments due to increasing complexity and capability of technology in the age of algorithm.
The term “dividuals” in the project title is inspired by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. In his 1992 work, Postscript on the societies of Control, Deleuze coined the term “dividual” to explain the mechanism of “control society”: the word “individual” can no longer represent the smallest unit that the society could be reduced to. The evolving modern technology of control has turned individuals into “masses, samples, data, markets, or “banks” (5, 1992). This shift from individual to dividual means we are in a constant orbit of networks that we are unable to opt out of.
“Daily Dividuals” presented by Tong Wu in ITP Thesis Week 2019, ITP, New York [Video]
“Daily Dividuals” is a series of Augmented Reality (AR) sculptures presented in the format of short movie clips to provide context. To reflect on the core concept, human alienation in the digital age, the project layers the theme and presents, through an AR lens, the imaginary transformation of the human body merging with and functioning as everyday objects.
For the project, Tong performed a complete objectification of herself, turning her body to into a hyper-flexible avatar model, and used the model to construct imaginary body sculptures.
Playing with dystopian connotations through the jarring and surreal images, the project prompts viewers to pause and consider the phenomena of estrangement observed in our evolving relationship to and dependence on machines. When the public becomes insensitive to being treated as measurable data and samples; when people are used to only see highly abstract representation of the complex digital world; when intensive, repetitive human labor is constantly fed into the artificial intelligence industry, are we still dominating the machines, or are we being dominated? We strive to make machines more like us, but it may be that we are becoming more like machines. In a way, we are meeting machines in the middle.
Born in the 90s, I was raised on the internet, as a human and an ID. Technology has shaped the way I experience and interact with the world.
As an artist working in and thinking within the intersection of technology and art, technology becomes the medium for me to observe and learn about the digital age we live in, its structure and ideology, its cultures and aesthetics.
But In many cases, I found myself trapped in an unequal relationship to technology. With as simple as a tap, a word or a body with warmth, we present every aspect of ourselves to an all-seeing, all-knowing technological world. Feeling alienated and objectified, I have to constantly ask myself: “What am I?”
It’s a dystopian vision I present here. Through the jarring and surreal images, I hope to prompt viewers to pause and consider the phenomena of estrangement observed in our evolving relationship to and dependence on machines.
The project creatively associate body avatar with everyday objects in shape and function, exploring the possibility and flexibility to duplicate and modify human avatar in an Augmented Reality environment. It purposely reverses the conventional ways a human interacts with common devices and presents an unorthodox perspective to once more reexamine the alienation of humans. We always thought we are making machine more like us, but it may be that we are becoming more like machines. In a sense, we are meeting machine in the middle.