Nervous Systems. Quantified Life and the Social Question
Companies in the technology sector are often idealized today. They seem to be visionary spaces where ordinary life does not fit and has little in common with the general idea of a rigid research center.
An elegant bubble of labour with its epicenter formed by some of the most successful start-up companies in Silicon Valley, working closely with highly regulated international institutions. Here data is understood as currency and information as a tool of power.
Normal is boring
In collaboration with Tactical Technology Collective La Loma developed four pieces that recreate a miniaturized example of this community and together form the table “Normal is Boring” as part of the live installation “The White Room“, part of the exhibition “Nervous Systems, Quantified life and the social question” (11th Mar to 9th May 2016) curated by Stephanie Hankey, Marek Tuszynski and Anselm Franke at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin).
The Fertility Chip (simulation / laser cut and engraving)
In January 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $ 11,316,324 to Microchips Biotech, Inc. to support the development of a natal planning device which can be implanted in a womans body for up to 16 years. The system allows the remote control of female hormones, effectively reducing the ability to conceive, preventing fertilization.
La Loma reproduced one of these chips and presented it like a jewel, a sophisticated gadget of medical industry, which is expected to be in circulation in 2018. This device will open up an ethical debate as it is developed primarily for women and girls in geographical areas with limited economic resources.
The Shire (Scale model of a Palantir office).
Palantir Technologies, a – to many unknown – company from Silicon Valley, is one of the most powerful data analysts in the world related to government institutions in the United States, such as the CIA, NSA, FBI, Marine Corps and Air Force.
Although Palantir has tried to expand their business away from its beginnings with the federal government and to make incursions in the business sector, its technology continues to process large amounts of data to make predictions, fraud detection, data security, study consumer behavior, etc.
Curiously, the name Palantir is taken from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings“, and refers to one of a group of spherical stones used to see events or distant places. “Save the Shire”, the prominent corporate slogan on the company’s shirts, means to make the world, loved and treasured, a better place protected from terrorists, scammers, cyber spies, etc.
Within the offices of Palantir. Credits: Peter DaSilva – The New York Times
The Shire is a model reconstructed from photographs published in an article in the New York Times in 2014. One image shows a mural of the board game Risk (game of global domination) in the company’s conference room. Another image shows one of the chill out areas decorated by a unicorn icon representing the myth of the venture companies valued at $ 1 billion dollars or more backed by a new generation in the technology market.
The Zuckerberg House (3D print)
The house of Mark Zuckerberg reflects the concern of the founder of Facebook to keep his private life away from the mass media. By using drastic measures to achieve this objective, he bought the houses that surround his property (Palo Alto – California), paying even higher sums than the value of his own house.
The Zuckerberg House is a 3D model placed on a platform. The reconstruction of his property is based on online satellite images. The model is covered by a glass bubble that reinforces the idea of protection. Very ironic when the mission of Facebook seems to be working to help make the world more open and connected based on the belief that interacting with each other will improve the life of everybody.
A social network that collaborates openly with legal authorities to promote safety, both on and offline.
The Google Empire (information graphic / wood and acrylic)
The search engine Google, the ambitious project of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, transformed the search for information into a global event. Through the recording of every interaction of its users, Google captures, analyzes, filters and presents big data.