Internet Humans (2020). When I think about selfies, I visualize them as the combined Internet self-portrait. “Internet Humans” is a project that explores machine learning with the trend of taking selfies with social-media filters. Through the work, I’m interested in the concept of Internet Humans, which are neural self-portraits generated from the combined trend of selfie augmentation.
This piece extends the history of self-portraits as a category of image. The subject as a public image is a self-representation that has morphed from 17th-century painted portraits, all the way to 21st-century accessible selfies on the internet and social media. A self-portrait which was once an image created by painters for those with economic reach is now an everyday feature in smartphone cameras.
The work, “Internet Humans” reflects on the current techno-political environment surrounding data-sensitivity and surveillance capitalism through the historical context of appropriation in contemporary art. The scraped dataset for the machine learning model was gathered through Instagram hashtags, public profile pictures on Facebook, and voluntary personal relationships. Although the dataset is not public, the issues of data sensitivity and privacy in regards to machine learning are raised, leaving one asking, are these companies using AI on my photos? We treat our information with such little care that it is easily available to be used for profit, advertising campaigns, and against us at our expense. Accessible data on the internet is now public property for computational and economic gains.