Saturday, March 25, 2023

Artist exposes influencers – and the mass surveillance

The Story Behind An Instagram Post Is Told By The Art Project «The Follower».
The story behind an Instagram post is told by the art project «The Follower».

Dries Depoorter

An art project reveals how influencers work. Above all, however, it shows the danger of mass surveillance.

It should be common knowledge that influencers typically present an idealized version of their lives on social media platforms like Instagram. And the fact that seemingly spontaneous snapshots when traveling are often the result of an elaborate photo shoot should no longer surprise anyone in 2022.

However, it is not often that the process of creating «content» is seen as transparently as through the project «The Follower» by Belgian artist Dries Depoorter. He brought together social media works and their genesis through the use of artificial intelligence, which evaluated publicly accessible surveillance cameras.

Involuntary look behind the scenes

Depoorter spent weeks collecting footage from surveillance cameras in public places to compare with Instagram posts made in the same places. Using publicly available facial recognition software, people who appear in both sources were then identified.

Depoorter presents the result on its social media channels. The Instagram photo can be seen on the left, and an involuntary behind-the-scenes video on the right, which shows, for example, how the influencers try out new poses with photographers until the perfect picture is found.

Influencers are just a means to an end

In order not to expose ordinary users in the project, only posts from influencers with at least 100,000 followers were evaluated. But actually Depoorter is not about the influencers.

Rather, «The Follower» shows how ubiquitous and simple mass surveillance is today. What Depoorter was able to do as a simple artist gives an idea of ​​what secret services, private security companies or other actors with incomparably greater resources could achieve through technology.

Politicians have also been exposed

“If you look at my previous work, you can see that I show the danger of new technologies. I hope to reach a lot of people by making it really easy,” Depoorter told Vice.

In his earlier project “The Flemish Scrollers”, he had AI software evaluate the live transmissions of the Flemish regional parliament. Whenever a Member of Parliament used their smartphone, a Twitter bot automatically sent a tweet to the politician asking them to concentrate on their work.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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