Data Identities is dealing with new digital forms of personal identification as our identities shift more and more towards a hybrid state between physical and digital, and we start to digitise our unique physical activities and status with various logging mechanisms. The project presents the efforts of a fictional government agency to develop a new kind of passport that is not only showing physical body features, but also the continuously logged physical and digital behaviour of its owner.
The narrative is presented through an interactive installation that allows the visitor to explore mechanisms and technological potentials of lifelogging and data analysis and the test digital prototypes of the passport by manipulating identity datasets. Accompanying documents show the discussions of the fictional characters who create this new passport, providing deeper insight into the technology and raising further questions about data logging, privacy and the relationship of the individual to its invisible trail of data.
We are Henrik Nieratschker and Marcel Helmer. We have been collaborating on design projects that critically question and examine the roles and potentials of technology in society over the past five years. We both studied at the Royal College of Art in London, which we graduated from with a Master of Arts in Design Interactions in 2014. Today we focus on the value of narratives to communicate emerging problems and implications of new technologies, developing work for exhibitions and festivals within our collaborative studio practice proto/meta.
How did you get started lifelogging/analysing data?
We started to become interested in logging, analysing and visualising data around 2010. With an initial interest in data visualisation from an aesthetic and technological perspective it quickly became clear to us that this field will become more important in the near future (now).
Why do you find lifelogging so interesting?
With the rise of the smartphone people started to carry more sensors close to their body and physical behaviour started to become a bigger part of our digital lives, eventually growing into the Quantified Self movement. What is so interesting is that we never had the possibility to know so much about ourselves or others as now and we are wondering what kind of social impacts this will have in the near future.
How do people in your life react when they discover the extent of your lifelogging?
We believe our extent of lifelogging is relatively normal in our generation. As with most ‘new’ technologies we are moderate in its use and more interested in understanding its impact and exploring its potentials.
What's your favourite time of day and why?
We like the night for its diversity. It can be a time for anything: excitement, relaxation, work, adventure and ideas.
Do you remember the first electronic device you owned?
A Sony Walkman, and an electric motor by Lego.
What do you want done with your data after you die?
We would like our personal data to be stored for future digital archaeologists.
Is there anything about yourself that you would absolutely never like tracked?
Anything we haven’t chosen to track or know about being tracked at that time.
What insights on your life has tracking your data revealed?
In the past, involuntary mechanisms of lifelogging have showed us how much time and money we spend on things we don’t even regard as important.
What websites, magazines or other resources inspire, confound, amuse or irritate you?
Jules Verne’s Le Voyage dans la Lune — the 1939 New York World Fair’s Futurama exhibit, author and scientist Isaac Asimov, De:Bug Magazine, secretawesome.us, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
What is your go-to piece of tech or software for lifelogging?
Last.fm and Excel.
We're creating a speculative timeline of the possible future of lifelogging. We're asking everyone to make one prediction for a future date. What's yours? Feel free to think big!
2064: History books will not only include Barack Obama’s words and actions, but also his pulse rate and his last phone calls in the paragraph about his announcement to end America’s isolation of Cuba.
Data Identities was initially commissioned by Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin.