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Data Dance is a performative design piece that explores a near future where pervasive quantification of every aspect of our lives has come at a cost—that of our own subjectivity.
“Not the ghost in the machine, but the body in the medium is the central dilemma of modern communications…” – John Durham Peters
In a possible near future, where quantifying of the self is taken to its logical extreme, every person has their own “supermetric”. This is an informatic that encompasses every possible data set related to one’s life: financial, emotional, health, genetic makeup, carbon footprint, online influence ranking and so on are all included. Given the intertwining of vast amounts of both objective and what was once understood as subjective data within the supermetric, extreme and aggregated quantification has led—rather paradoxically—to near abstraction.
Updated in real-time, the supermetric is a dynamic version of the self outside the self, a digibody. People have come to think of it as a metonym for one’s “total” state of being. Your metric is you. This quantified self exists independently from the physical self and yet everything from friends, to employees, to spouses, to politicians are chosen based on it.
Increasingly, however, there is a desire to physically experience the data world; to reintroduce the ambiguities and ontological weirdness of everyday meatspace.
A peculiar communication ritual that has gained popularity in fringe areas of the city is that of experiencing another’s “true” state via a transfer of the metric. It is a ritual that requires trust and commitment by both the people taking part. As the two data sets interact, the metric, the self of the other, is received and rejected, it fits, it doesn’t fit, it flows and gets caught, it indulges, aches, delights and refuses. This interplay is experienced by one of the participants on the body via a fluctuating electric current. In its essence, the ritual is thought to be a method for noise-free, embodied communication.