Artwork by! Mediengruppe Bitnik
Curated by Doreen A. Ríos
Produced with the help of Patricia Siller
Salón Fundación Telefónica x Gallery Weekend CDMx
Praga 33, Col. Juárez, CDMx
20th - 23rd September 2018
Ashley Madison Angels at Work in Mexico, 2018
Ashley Madison Angels at Work in Mexico is part of a research investigating Ashley Madison, a Canadian online dating service that is marketed around the world for married people looking for a love affair. During July and August 2015, the anonymous group The Impact Team stole and published all internal Ashley Madison data, including the website code and functionality, customer data and CEO emails. The data breach revealed that, with a disproportionate number of male subscribers and virtually no human women on the site, Ashley Madison had created an army of 75,000 female chatbots to attract the 32 million male users to (expensive) conversations.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik uses Ashley Madison as a case study to ask questions about the current relationship between humans and machines, privacy on the Internet and the use of virtual platforms to interrupt physical development. The artists adapt the work to the location of each exhibition using the specific data of the host city such as Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, Athens, London and, with this exhibition, for the first time in Mexico.
In Conexión (in)discreta, viewers encounter bots at eye level as seductive machine creatures with robotic technology, artificial voices and three-dimensional human faces based on idealized beauty standards.
For Ashley Madison Angels At Work in Mexico, !Mediengruppe Bitnik uses the dialogues used by Ashley Madison in its bots to form an audiovisual choreography within the exhibition space.
"Is anyone home, hahaha?", "Are u busy?", "What brings you here?"
Praga 33 becomes the place of incarnation of the 5 fembots located closest to this space: 5 of the 237 bots that were active in the centre of Mexico City at the time of data release. Each of these bots has a name, age and specific location and provided "entertainment" to some of the 65,866 registered users in Mexico.
This artwork offers a peculiar look at the consumption of social platforms in Mexico and is, without a doubt, unique in its type since it establishes a direct relationship with the local context and the use of the internet, as well as with current questions that, particularly within the political context, have an unprecedented weight. That is, the idea of the bot as a political entity, the understanding and dissemination of false news, the thin line between the virtual and the physical, the disruptive use of digital platforms. and, of course, the implications of ignoring the dynamics behind these new technologies.
As a complementary part of this exhibition, an artist talk under the name DE LA AFECTIVIDAD A LA PLATAFORMA will be held on Saturday, September 22 at Praga 33, where Carmen Weisskopf will talk about !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s body of work. The entrance is free but space is limited, to register enter this link.
This piece was commissioned by Fundación Telefónica and ProHelvetia for Gallery Weekend CDMX and previously by Center Culturel Suisse in Paris and Swissnex San Francisco.