This installation invites people to chat over a table. The words, freed from the speakers, begin a life of their own. Words that are on topic live longer and grow; others die on the the shore, along with particles and pronouns. With time, the table is filled with keywords aligning with the topic and arguments put forward on the table, but the flock can disolve as the conversation goes, and a new semantic kindom emerge.
The survival of the “fittest opinion“ on social networks
VivaVoce is a visual metaphor of how memes and “truth” form in our digitally mediated world, in particular online social networks. Once uttered, one cannot expect words to dissolve in thin air as it was the case in the past – instead, words (and by extension opinions) live and thrive in the digital medium. Invisible processes involving algorithms (as well as humans) force upon them a process of natural selection leading to the emergence of memes, unreasonable consensus, reinforced biases and polarized opinions. Everybody wants to have the last word, but the truth is that we are not in control.
The work relies on natural language processing (word embedding, semantic and sentiment analysis) using wordkit Python library, and a circular microphone array to locate the speaker (Respeaker Array). A Processing receives the processed data through TCP, and generate the visuals (work flocking, virtual semantic forces).
- VivaVoce, Alvaro Cassinelli & Can Liu, Comissioned for Art Machines Past & Present exhibition, Curated by Richard Allen and Jeffrey Shaw, Indra and Harry Banga Gallery, CityU Hong Kong, Nov.24 2020 -Feb.21 2021.