Through the Looking Glass

Tanuja Mishra (MDes '17)

The internet has grown from its humble origins into a behemoth that pervades every aspect of our lives. Everyday, we upload new content onto our screens and devices. We are aware of the surveillance infrastructure that runs beneath this web of data, yet we continue to populate it. We share data about our lives in all possible ways – willingly, reluctantly and unknowingly! Even when we willingly share our content with a certain group of people – how much control do we have on how it is accessed, modified and interpreted?

This data becomes available for manipulation at many different levels. At the most visible level, it is morphed in ways that we either didn’t anticipate or didn’t allow in the first place. It shows up in contexts that are far removed from its original intent in both space and time. The next level of manipulation, however, is slightly more subtle. At this level, we lose ownership of our data to the corporations that host them. As a result, some of the forms in which they are resurrected may become hidden behind access restrictions and legal agreements. Finally, at an even more invisible level, this data is accessible only to the algorithms that feed on it. The ways in which it is dissected and analyzed become completely hidden from us.

This project opens up a space for investigating the shapes and forms of data that are invisible to us. It questions the implications of losing control over the content that we create.