This work explores the flow and spread of data, using Physarium Polyhedra slime mould to illuminate what is an abstract and opaque system of data collection, sharing and verification.
Each of us emits a steady stream of data, driven by every interaction with a connected device or physically in increasingly monitored spaces. The price of participation in networked society is submission to a constant stream of measurement and categorisation, and these data points are cross-referenced into Big Data and increasingly sophisticated machine learning based processes. These in turn are used to form behavioural predictions and profiles of alarming granularity which are used not only to predict but to guide human behaviour.
By translating the character and volume of data passing through, this work seeks to illustrate the hidden interconnectedness and thriving ecology of data particles as they pass from devices into a web of third party sharing and analytics.
To participate in the work, a viewer must connect to the open WiFi network ayeofthebeholden and turn off their mobile data. Through either passive observation or by browsing the internet, interacting with apps and clicking through ads, data packets pass through the access point. These packets are assessed based on the data collection and sharing policies of the originator, with the most predatory widening the spread of food particles falling down onto the slime mould's agar bed.
Through different degrees of engagement and opening one's data to examination, a vision of the hidden data ecosystem is revealed.