Distributed Empire

by Justin Clemens, Christopher Dodds, Adam Nash, commissioned for the 19th International Symposium of Electronic Art, 2013, Sydney and Darwin.

What's happening?


When you upload a selfie (self portrait using your camera phone), the DE web app displays your image and slowly composites (morphs) in realtime between your image and previously uploaded selfies, whilst in the background DE is performing an internet-wide image recognition search on your image. The results are then fed back into the DE webpage for further compositing between your and everybody else's image search results.

Artist Statement


In the age of global networked data, nearly everyone in the developed world has signed away their rights to privacy in exchange for the privilege of tirelessly working, for free, to produce content for a handful of massive global data-capitalist corporations. All that is solid melts into data, and such corporations delete none of it, ever, yet present nothing but the right-now, erasing history and context, and replacing it with an endless parade of banal distraction. Our experience is presented back to us in a networked digital simulation so comprehensively distracting that it actually becomes our experience, an endless now without context, pure representation, the perfect visual medium for advertising nothing but itself. Big Brother is advertising to you and you alone. Promising self-empowerment, this perfect simulation delivers nothing but an impatient desire - a need - to produce more content for itself. Distributed Empire asks participants - in the gallery and online via social networks, websites and social apps - to consider our place and role within the global network of data capital and whether resistance is even possible. Endlessly recombining the input of participants in a state-of-the-art realtime morphing composition of bewitching audiovisuals, possible only with high speed networks, Distributed Empire highlights the fragile state of the global ego in the era of massively online narcissistic consumerism.