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Big Data Pawn Shop

Exhibitions: Sam Lavigne / Big Data Pawn Shop

As part of The Art of Bots showcase, Sam Lavigne will present, Big Data Pawn Shop and Parliament Live, a new UK version of C-SPAN 5.

Project Intro:

Big Data Pawn Shop an online store which offers knick-knacks, such as t-shirts, trucker hats, iPad cases, and even doggie vests, decorated with leaked official documents, featuring documents with codenames like COTTONMOUTH, CANDYGRAM and IRONCHEF. The highly amusing NSA kitsch-tastrophe launched as a limited online shop in 2014. For The Art of Bots showcase, we’ll be relaunching the shop with some special UK editions, offering you the perfect gift options for those friends and loved ones engaged with the politics of privacy.

C-SPAN 5 is an automated C-SPAN re-editing program that condenses hour-long C-SPAN programming to 1-2 minute clips. Every day the script downloads a C-SPAN video, transcribes the audio, and then creates a new video containing top keywords from the transcription. The finished videos are then posted to YouTube and Twitter.

Each video is completely auto-generated: Sam has no direct control of which keywords are selected or how the final edits come out. Encompassing an impossibly large corpus of political spectacle, talking points and general tedium, what follows is C-SPAN rendered in its most concentrated form. The transparent release of information can itself be an obfuscating strategy. C-SPAN gives us direct access to the tedium of governing, but the gesture of transparency is nullified by the sheer size of the corpus. Procedural reduction can serve as a counter strategy.

For The Art of Bots, Sam will present a new UK version of C-SPAN 5, titled Parliament Live, focussing on footage from the House of Commons. This will be released online, and installed within the showcase during The Art of Bots weekend.

Artist Bio:

Sam Lavigne is an artist and programmer based in Brooklyn. His work deals with surveillance, cops, data, and automation. He is currently a research fellow at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and a contributing editor at The New Inquiry. He is the co-founder of Useless Press, an online publishing collective, and the Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon. @sam_lavigne