Magazine article American Theatre

New York City and Montclair, N.J.: Me and My Data Shadow

Magazine article American Theatre

New York City and Montclair, N.J.: Me and My Data Shadow

Article excerpt

You are not alone. Someone cares that you bought a bottle of perfume online, rented porn at the video store and borrowed a Garcia-Marquez novel from the public library. Somebody saw you swipe your debit card at Whole Foods. Somebody knows you skipped taking the subway to work yesterday based on what's encoded in your Metrocard. Someone is tracking your every move. It isn't just Big Brother.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Super Vision, the cornucopia of performance, video and digital animation created by the New York City-based Builders Association and the multimedia design studio dbox, reveals how the most ordinary things you do generate a representation of yourself that is neither your ego nor your actual self. The total collection of data and byte-sized files about you (login/logout records, web caches, e-mail headers, cellphone numbers) represents your data body--a state-and-corporate-controlled doppelganger. This body dictates your status in the social world. It polices the degree of your participation in our consumer society. It even authenticates your identity during routine security checkups, because what this data shadow says about you is more real than what you say about yourself.

"When you're born, your data is born with you, and it shadows you for the rest of your life," says director Marianne Weems. "Threads or clouds of information invisibly follow you everywhere. The whole issue of civil liberties and data is so enmeshed. …

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