Wednesday - Saturday, 14:00 - 18:00
The artist duo LarbitsSisters present their new project at Gluon, in collaboration with Fundamental Research.
The BitSoil Tax & Hack Campaign is an internet based installation that deploys its activity both online and offline, presented at Gluon. It’s an interaction between a troupe of happily trolling social media bots on Twitter and an offline interactive installation, geared as a critical tool to restore a fair balance to the digital economy and its tendencies to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few big tech companies.
In recent years, major big corporates like Google, Apple and Facebook have profited from the business model of providing free services in exchange for user data. This model is now broken. The value of user data has outstripped the value of free services. These companies’ profits continue to increase, as their ability to know more about their users increases and this becomes more attractive to advertisers and other third parties. This new oil, the user’s data, or “bitsoil” as the LarbitsSisters coined it, has up until now been freely given away without any thought to the value of this data and who benefits from it. What if this wealth is tapped again and returns to its instigators, the crowd for instance?
The BitSoil Tax & Hack Campaign is part of on an ongoing project bitREPUBLIC, that seeks to redefine and redesign tools for an open, artificial, DIY framework which aims is to guarantee those disenfranchised, displaced or excluded an unconditional right to socio-economic inclusion. The BitSoil Tax & Hack Campaign aims to mobilise users of social media platforms to claim a micro tax on their data and therein make a call for a fair distribution of the wealth of the digital economy.
For the campaign, the LarbitsSisters have set up a vpn network and IBM’s AI-Watson application builder to train an army of tax-collector bots to detect and collect bitsoils on the data produced by users on Twitter. This triggers a tweet with a video that pops up on the user’s account and redirects him to the online platform of the campaign were a bot invites him to do several actions, from gathering information on the BitSoil tax campaign, to generating his own tax collector bot (or bots); tailored with a set of actions to perform, as for example, sending at regular intervals a tax claim postcard to the CEO’s of the top 10 biggest tech giants, or to the Prime Minister of Finance of his choice.
Each action on Twitter during the campaign triggers offline – on bitREPUBLIC at Gluon – one tiny ticket receiver of the BitSoil installation, assigning ad random a micro amount of bitsoils to a wallet of a participant of the campaign. On each ticket printer, lined up around a datacenter, the visitor can follow the production of bitsoils generated by users’ activities and their bots on Twitter. With the installation, the physical and virtual blend into each other.
The work of the Brussels-based artist duo LarbitsSisters (Bénédicte Jacobs & Laure-Anne Jacobs) is situated at the crossroads of art, technology, political and societal issues and grew out of a shared fascination on new media, merging research and artistic practice onto projects in which concepts such as traceability, network analysis, algorithms, automation, data processing are explored. LarbitsSisters’ work focuses on the creative drives and patterns in digital media.
Central is the friction between public and private, online and offline; between the unbridled faith in technological progress and everyday life. Their work has been presented in several national and international exhibitions and symposia.
In 2011 LarbitsSisters founded the Research lab on Digital Visualizations, Larbitslab. Larbitslab brings together artists and scientists around societal issue of networked societies. The specificity of Larbitslab lies in the methodological approach, which combines observing practices, media analysis and research on technical and societal implications.
Fundamental Research creates dialogue between artists and scientists whose areas of investigation intersect. Often this meeting occurs at the point of an image. The organization’s activities include residency programs, exhibitions, and discussions, aiming to stimulate trans- disciplinary research and new forms of artistic production. Fundamental Research is directed by Beatrice de Gelder and Harlan Levey.
GLUON – Platform for art, science and technology
Since its inception, Gluon has raised awareness of global challenges. We believe that interactions between researchers, artists, industrials, citizens and young people are vital in a common search for solutions to the challenges that affect this system. Therefore, Gluon developed a platform that maximizes collaborations and confrontations between these different stakeholders. Gluon realizes its programme in collaboration with an increasing number of partners, leading to exhibitions, workshops, residencies for artists in companies and universities and a specific STARTS (Science, Technology & Arts) initiatives for youngsters between 14 and 18 years old.