Heaven to the Cloud, 2019
Blind faith in technology? Looking for answers online? Using speculative design as a tool, Heaven to the Cloud recontextualises digital rituals into culturally familiar forms of ceremony--a choral performance, artefacts, and liturgy--in an attempt to better illuminate the complexities of the commodified internet. Exploring the two-dimensionality of online life, the project uses online behaviour interpreted by artificial intelligence to examine algorithmic integrity of commercial profiling. Used in targeted advertising and content curation, IBM Watson (known as a Natural Languge AI) analyses the language of social media accounts to create consumer personality profiles of users--in this case, the tweeted gospels of Jesus Christ. Civilisation used to look to the heavens for answers; this search has taken a dramatic turn toward technology and the answers found in "the cloud". With this in mind, the multi-dimensionality of such a dynamic, well-known figure provides an opportunity to consider how we relate to ourselves and others in a world dominated by two-dimensional screens and algorithms.
"O Salutaris Online Hostia"
Lyrics by IBM Watson AI via consumer personality profile >> Originally written by St. Thomas Aquinas. Adapted from composition of "O salutaris hostia" by Monsignor Lorenzo Perosi.
Performance by Alice Beverley, Charlotte Walters, John Laichena, and Tom Norrington. Video recording by Lea Silvestrucci. Audio recording by Barney Kass. Performed at St Thomas on Bethnal Green in London.
How it works :: After tweeting the quotes of Jesus from the gospels, the Twitter account was then processed with the IBM Watson AI. The results were a summary of his personality type and a sunburst chart using the Big Five personality traits, aka OCEAN model, recently made famous by Cambridge Analytica scandals. consumer analysis <> science behind it
The sunburst chart has an uncanny resemblance to a monstrance--an open or transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Host (aka the body of Christ) is displayed for veneration. The wafer (Host) is used during the Eucharist (communion), Eucharistic adoration, or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I created one for the performance and final exhibition with acrylic containing the chart's information. It can be seen in the video performance.
In addition to the monstrance, other cermonial artefacts were created such as wafers, as used in church services to represent the broken body of Christ, with the internt's broken image icon printed in edible ink, referencing the broken avatar body of Jesus christ.