Accidental Narratives and Facebook Artworks

Faithful readers and Search-box enthusiasts may remember my fascination with James Coupe’s artwork from last summer. His explorations into narrativity with conscious or unconscious user/reader/actor participation is exciting, as is his “algorithmic approach to story.”

Coupe’s new project is called TODAY, TOO, I EXPERIENCED SOMETHING I HOPE TO UNDERSTAND IN A FEW DAYS. Its materials are users’ facebook status updates and YouTube uploads, and the organizing principle is determined mathematically, not by Coupe or some organic entity. As I mentioned with Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey, I’m fascinated by new forms of narrative collection, and James Coupe is one of the brightest minds working in this space. His artwork also operates “inside” of Facebook, using the same data advertisers mine so contentiously. This brings up intriguing questions about strangers’ right to privacy normally reserved  for photography theory.

This is a site-specific artwork that auto-generates narrative films based upon data collected from Facebook users. Using a combination of status updates, YouTube uploads and video portraits — each one a form of surveillance — the work explores the relationship between exhibitonism and voyeurism. Facebook is a new kind of social space: one that gives us an opportunity to share personal information about ourselves with people all over the world. Does this mean that people know us better? Or does it simply allow us to have more control over how we present the person we want to be?
-James Coupe

More on the project
YouTube Channel
Facebook Application

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