One Person :: Urban Electronic Corpus

Project by Venelin Shurelov

One Person :: Urban Electronic Corpus is a living system, forming a collective body in the process of constant self-actualization. The computer algorithm combines video and dataveillance. The relationship with people, the environment and the information flow, I call datafied interaction, it is a consequence of the human-computer symbiosis, which is not only based on choice, but on coexistence. "One Person" is a ruthless mirror that presents society as a gigantic, interconnected, living system designed to facilitate unification and communication throughout.

One Person is a process-orientated interactive installation, pilot project for the program "Outside" of Sofia Municipality for support of temporary artworks in an urban environment - site "Mausoleum", “Knyaz Al. Battenberg I”, Sofia, Bulgaria. The project is a 13-meter human-like figure with 42 LED screens on both sides of the 8-ton metal construction.

The project lasts about a year: 06. 11. 2020 - 31. 12. 2021. The electronic body broadcasts dynamic visual content, generated via a specifically developed computer algorithm that combines video-surveillance, data-analysis, and AI-generated text.

Video-surveillance mode is based on a signal coming directly from two cameras placed on both sides of the figure. The cameras take turns in broadcasting their footage every minute and make a 10-second recording, which is uploaded as a videoloop fragment on the screens. That way the large “screen body” seems to consist of multiple media cut-outs of reality, visual scratches of interacting or randomly passing-by people, meteorological conditions, light flickers, shadows, etc. turning it into a self-actualizing digital graffiti. Every full hour for five minutes the system displays a live signal of the cameras giving the opportunity to the viewer to place his whole silhouette in the full scale of the figure.

Generative animation mode is composed through data analysis. One Person functions via a program code, which collects, analyses, and visualizes information about the city, its dynamics, the quality of the environment, meteorological data and so on. The visualization and interpretation of this information as an artistic material is the “electronic tissue” One Person consists of.

Textual statements mode is formed by news headlines from six websites selected before-hand that give themes, such as politics, economics, technologies, urban lifestyle, arts and culture. With hacker-like methods, it searches through the news flow on a daily basis and suggests a version of the titles to the content moderators. The acquired sentences are interpreted by an AI component (machine learning) and syntactically converted into first person singular. That way One Person’s newly formed statements connect him with the global information flow and at the same time express his “personal” thoughts, decisions, actions, conditions.

The three modes for generating screen content work synchronously in creating a homogeneous visual environment.

One Person is located in a significant historical place in the center of Sofia - the Bulgarian capital. For five decades there was the Mausoleum of the former communist leader, which was destroyed in 1999 by the democratic government, the remains are an empty concrete platform. This space is directly opposite the National Art Gallery - the Palace, the former residence of the Bulgarian monarchy between 1882-1946. The place is still in the collective symbolic memory of the citizens. The new body of “One person” is provoking a cultural reactions that are moving the public and activating once again the expectations hidden behind the hopes for the “new times”.

The ways of interaction with One Person are a composite and content part of the piece. Through its functionality the work is separated from the control of the author and is a flexible structure, depending on the behavior of the people and the changes in the environment. The sensitive part of the city in which it is situated demands such an approach. Contemporary technology allows the development of such open-source systems with a rather liberal than an authoritarian way of functioning.

The figure, which dominates in the public space, is not a specific historical figure, but a composite of an ever actualizing multitude of random by-passers or intentional visitors. The interactive element gives the opportunity for game interaction, but could lead to sharp social messages.

The dynamic electronic body is not another promise, in contrast with its predecessor - it is an urban reaction to its contemporaneity. This project captures the mixture of a brave artistic approach, deep historic context and the recent specific political and social situation in Bulgaria. Through the open window provided by Earthcam, "One Person" has the opportunity to get to know the world and he with it.

We have to follow the growth of One Person, to see its conclusions from the great equation of the city and its people.

Be part of this process!