The Cat in the Black Box

A post about an influencer adventure cat on Instagram, an audio recording of its purring, and the x-ray image of its spine taken by a vet, are three forms of data that inspire different behaviors toward the same animal. In this sense data is not a mere representation of what‘s there, let alone an objective one, but it exercises a transformative power over reality.

In this panel talk we discussed strategies for designers to intervene in data structures in order to democratize them, distributing power and accommodating diverse sets of interests. In addition to framing the concept and content of the panel talk, we developed an experimental set-up to invite a data-set to join the conversation and openly influence the talk.

Beforehand we trained a sound recognition algorithm on our voices, programming the visuals on the big screens around the stage to react to certain keywords. This meant that during the discussion different topics would trigger matching visuals, be intercepted by (cat-) memes, or give cues to move on to the next points.

Panelists: Jan Christian Schulz , Lukas Völp , Marie Verdeil, Teresa Fernández Pello & Rebekka Jochem
Specialist: Ron Wakkary