Beforetheydeletethis.com

Crypto H(e)aven reincarnation

This work in a form of a website is an iteration of Cryptoheaven – Letta Shtohryn’s artistic speculation about the digital afterlife of Gerald Cotten. The second chapter of this work, Before They Delete This, is the result of a collaboration between the artist and curator Kat Zavada. Our collaborative speculation will look at Cotten through a bespoke methodological framework inspired by conspiracy theories.

to the full experience >> Beforetheydeletethis.com

Woman, Holding

The work addresses the algorithmic bias of commercially available image description and image creation services. Arranged into an ambiguous form that could be interpreted as a shrine, as a memorial, or as a futuristic display, the work engages with the inherent biases of commercial facial analysis and image-description services that are trained on data sets (such as ImageNet) and explores the consequent bias that comes with those data sets.  In the creation of the work, a number of images of the artist were taken which were processed through multiple machine learning services that describe imagery. The services were quite unbiased when describing nonhuman and male objects, meaning the service did not use evaluative descriptors like ‘pretty’, ‘good looking’, or ‘sexy’, when describing nature, cityscapes or men wearing clothes. However, when the algorithms described images of women, they used evaluative descriptors in most cases. The same level of evaluative descriptor in the case of a male image was achieved very rarely, compared to the images of women that did not project any sexualised undertones. A shirtless man posing on a club advertisement was labelled as ‘serious’ and ‘fine-looking .

Steel, plastic, epoxy, printed image,wax, electronics,tablets, thread, fabric.
190cm x 260cm x 60cm

Shown
@Strangers in strange land,
curated by Unfinished art space,
@MUZA, MT
Febr 2020

After performing a converse action using commercial text-to-image services the text output from the image description service was run through a text-to-image process for which the artist removed the evaluative descriptors like ‘pretty’ and ‘good looking’. For example, a ‘woman in front of a mirror’ image descriptor results in a semi-abstract blob that can be recognised as a posed selfie in underwear, a post beach photo, a mirror selfie, and other varieties that have in common a visual language of objectification of women.
The title of the work stems from the often-encountered image description of the medium shot of the researcher ‘holding’, implying that the data sets with which the algorithms trained view women as carers
We may think of algorithms as somehow neutral, but ultimately not only have they been created by people who have their own biases and prejudices, but descriptive algorithms use data sets that contain the biases of people who have labelled the images have inherited biases about what type of person could likely be involved in a crime and what gender should be attributed to a doctor, lawyer and scientist. 
 
 
 

With works by:

Aysegul Altunok – Bailey Keogh – Charlene Gálea -Chen Varsano – Eda Sarman – Enrico Dedin- Enzo Luciano – Erica Jewell – Ex.Icon – FBRZ VLL – Ingrid K. Bjørnaali – Ivana Tkalčić – JPEG Bolton – Julio Guzmán –
Kornelia Remø Klokk – Mez Breeze – Milos Peskir – Mustafa Khanbhai – Noviki – Redgrits – Sandra Araújo – Santa France – ULTRAGLITX – Vic West –
Vitória Cribb – Yvonne Libenson – Zander Porter

Whatdowedonow?

Curation of the offline pavilion @the Wrong Biennale @ Casino Notabile, MT – Dec 2019. What Do We Do Now? pavilion explores the tension between the tangible and the digital.  This cross-realm codependency leads to an entangled existence of both, merging into a singular reality in an energy-demanding world. We look at digital relics, future digital fossils, dataflow, the body within the digital, conversations between nature and machines and a place for human-ness inside an algorithmically customised reality. The exhibition also included physical installation by FBRZ VLL.  The works were dispersed on VR sets x2 via custom built app by Letta Shtohryn, WIFI routers x2, 8″tablets x 3, 32″monitors x 2, Raspberry Pi x1.

What’s the word for the sound of infinite scrolling?


The work looks at machines looking at us – looking, tracking, categorising, talking about humans behind our backs. These machines create biased data portraiture of advertisement markers that are interpreted in clusters. A gentle hover over a post by a user, causes another marker to be added. They are building memory storage of social media activity, adding words that are not known to the user but are indicators for other machines of the activity carried out. Algorithms built by humans talk to other algorithms through our tracking history, categorising, simplifying our complex selves to words that when analysed by different algorithms indicate our mental state, our concerns and our political preferences. We are the data, the 21st-century gold — gentle scrolling ads to the wealth of the machine owners. In a way, we are always at work for them.

Taking instagram advert markers from January 2018 until December 2019 from my Instagram account and exporting them to be analysed via Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Center website in equal parts, with that creating psychological profile of a person I was in slices. This research is what Cambridge Analytica based their data collecting model on. The tablets display the results of my character analysis swinging between altruism and selfishness, neuroticism and conscientiousness, displaying my moods and unconscious activity. Communicating about my character in words I also use but can not understand.  

Laser printed textile 4 m x 1.60 m ;
8″ tablets, animation vertical 20 sec, HD

Ritual crossover (2019)​

In an increased reliance on automation, humans designate the most routine tasks to the machines. Even those who are hired to perform a spiritual ritual rely on a robot to carry out the most repetitive assignment of drawing sacred patterns with a smoking object within and around a building.The patterns were developed by humans for the mechanised routine tasks of housecleaning; the machines performed them often enough to embrace the patterns as their spiritual symbols.

When robots started learning the rituals of humans, they would pull the information about a specific type of ceremony from the internet. Being confused by the multitude of conflicting beliefs, the machine would perform a random selection of rites building a data set compiled of the cross-section of the most viewed spiritual practices. The machines will then culturally appropriate all things human while indirectly employ global spiritual content creators to perform in the rituals of the robots.

 
Floor cleaning robot, 4” mobile phone; Single channel video 9 min;  mobile speaker; incense sticks; silver cloak; broom. Performance 15 min
Images : Elisa von Brockdorff

Video : Andrew Pace

Human Object (2019)

Human Object explores what differentiates humans from Artificial Intelligence at this point in AI development. Recently, some Alexa owners have become concerned with her ability to mimic active listening. What other things can AI do that we thought to be ultimately human? Must we continually reconfigure our concept of what is “human” as technology mimics human behaviour increasingly (and unnervingly) accurately? Can an AI hesitate? Can an AI change its mind? In this work I am looking at (post)soviet gym culture, Instagram fitness tutorials and YouTube trainers with perfect bodies, perfect postures and perfect performances. The humans so perfect they are almost non-human, embodying authoritarian militaristic training and discipline in the pursuit of robotic perfection to become an übermensch – a hyperhuman.
Vinyl shets 3.60 m x 2.20 m Matress foam 1.40 x 1.60 x 30 cm HD video 02:51 this extract 00:24 min

3/05 – 16/06 2019 Object, Objetc, Objecc (group show) @Spazju Kreattiv (MT)

Crypto H(e)aven (2019)

 
“On 9th December 2018 the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga CX dies. Gerald Cotten personally held the passwords to customers’ digital wallets, thereby rendering $190 million lost or missing. Speculation continues about the truth behind his sudden death in India.”

Death is a rare phenomenon in the cryptocurrency world, although exit scams are not. Here, the corporeal event of bodily death suddenly clashed with – and superseded – the seeming immateriality (on the first glance) of the crypto world. The crypto-realm seem to function on a quasi-religious premise of belief in digital money – money that only exists when enough people assert and legitimates its realness via the blockchain. 

This work looks at crypto heaven and crypto haven as places where “deceased” CEOs go. Gerald Cotten’s remarkable ability to be both alive and dead in the mind of the redditors transforms him into a Schrödinger’s quantum phenomenon. Leaving a space for speculation on whether Cotten can be found in the cloud of afterlife or in a safe haven with a new identity mixed in between digital nomads, whose life in the video consists of aimlessly filling their time with self care between crypto price jumps. 

 

Scaffolding 180 cm x 5 pieces, four UV printed synthetic curtains 180 x 180 cm, silver fabric, chocolate (consumable) bitcoin, Video : single channel, 4K, 12 min

3/05 – 16/06 2019
Object, Objetc, Objecc
(group show with Liza Eurick and Katri Kempass) @Spazju Kreattiv (MT)

Crypto H(e)aven (continuation)

The research behind the work was expanded on during an online residency at Isthisit in Aug 2019

https://www.isthisitisthisit.com/crypto-heaven

Offshore Bakery (2019)

The work looks at offshore schemes and the global spider-web of interconnected companies. Offshore bakery refers to an alternative reality of the Old Bakery Street in Valletta; where once were bakeries, now are offices. They appear to be regular buildings on the outside, but they are something else behind a magic protective shield. When one stands close enough and knows when and where to look, one can see them extend to incredible proportions, almost liquid, elastic, presenting the recently unveiled world of global offshore connection, shell companies and trusts. Some buildings are extraordinary, as they host thousands of companies, their invisible power is to extend endlessly on the inside. When you have crossed the protective shield, all the tenants are revealed, and you are observing the magic universe of secrecy, offshore trading and global tax evasion. 1080p video 13 min, single channel, audio : sound – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Video : snipped 02:22 min Images : (bottom) Elisa von Brockdorff.  Daily Bread installation view @the Mill, Birkirkara, MT (Aug 2019) (top) Wolfgang Thaler. Debatable Land(s) installation view. KEX, Vienna (AT) (Nov 2020). Courtesy of Fleeting Territories.


Google Receipts (2019)

This work materialises online browser data via a receipt printer, finding an analogy in consumer transactions. Our browsing data is increasingly being transformed into a commodity that is bought and sold by big businesses,
instead of its original use as a record of private online activity for our own use. Our browser history is where the mind is manifested. These same inscribed manifestations are also valuable consumer data, traded for marketing and surveillance purposes. Google receipts materialises digital non privacy by printing out each line of the artist’s browser history every day for the duration of the exhibition to be
viewed by anonymous strangers – free of charge.

Receipts printer
Raspberry PI 3
Thermal paper

30 cm x 15 cm x 150 cm
(unique)

Algorithmic Oracle (2019)

Nobody knows what the others are seeing. Algorithmically created filter bubbles split our online reality into a multiverse of experiences. Our screens provide us with a customised alternative reality, shaping our ways of perceiving the world offline. I don’t see the same content as you, but we act as if we see the same thing. Where did the reality split happen? If one looks at our customised perceptions, it seems not unlike an open-world game replayed without saving. It is a series of clicks that separate our multiverse. Algorithmic Oracle attempts to grasp multiple realities at the same time. The clicks are being translated IRL to causal actions that create tangible outcomes. In this work, I am asking a game algorithm to create a series of what-if scenarios of an event of a house fire, letting the SIMS 3 game algorithm decide how a real-life event could have unfolded. SIMS3 used here as a way to employ a “higher” algorithmic power, an oracle machine. All the players and the set in the video are crafted to fit their real characteristics and looks. The game starts every scenario with three steps controlled by the player. After the action is completed, the game runs scenarios based on its probability algorithm without interference resulting in a multitude of outcomes.

9 single channel videos 8 min 12 sec or a single channel composite 8 min 12 sec

 

25/04-30/04 Dream Catcher at The Box @ Phillips, New York, USA

1/05-05/05 Little Hell Gate at Frieze Art Fair, New York, USA

6/05-31/05 Algorithmic Oracle at Vanity Projects, Miami, USA

13/09 – 27/10 Algorithmic Oracle at Video Vortex XXIIÂ by Institute of Network Cultures, Spazju Kreattiv, MT

Cognitive Services (2019)


This work looks into aspects of facial recognition, of machine vision vs lens vision as different ways of seeing. Digital images reproduced by machines are translated into visuals only for our human benefit: in a world run by machines, this visual imagery would be inscribed in binary code or text. So what does a computer see?
 

In this work, images of the artist had been recognised by an online Microsoft demo and output by another demo into the text to be translated again via another algorithm into an image.  Other two images were subjected to a Microsoft azure image description and emotion detection demo. The uncontrollably and partially trained aspect of the algorithmic online demo is of interest to this work, as it has revealed its inbuilt bias.
Although a successful recognition rate can be quite high when a reference image is provided to the machine, when the same system is tasked with face detection of an image and to describe that image without human intervention, the software performs the task in a variety of flawed ways. When Amazon’s Rekognition software was
tasked to identify women, it misidentified the gender of white women 29% of the time and darker skinned women 31% of the time. If machines learn from databases that have inbuilt racial and gender stereotypical characteristics then these biases will be inherited by the machines. The stakes become higher with the gradual implementation of these biased image recognition technologies on a governmental level.
 
These themes were explored further in woman, holding (2020)
 

Aluminium print 40 x 50 cm (unique)
Aluminium print 30 x 20 cm (unique)
Aluminium print 20 x 15 cm (unique)

3/05 – 16/06 2019 Object, Objetc, Objecc (group show)
@Spazju Kreattiv (MT)

Flawed Object (2019)

A broken screen makes visible this mediative device that lies between the machine’s output and our eyes; its failure to act as a transparent window renders this role visible, making us aware of our cognitive immersion into a digital realm. Similarly, damaged glasses remind us that there is a (now flawed) intermediary between us and the visual world. Eye floaters are reminders that our eyes themselves are a sometimes flawed medium through which we experience the world. No visual perception is received in a pure form, we must utilise a number of filters to have a visual experience. This work looks at imperfections in visual transmissions and the subsequently increased visibility of the mediating technology in these cases 4.5 ” mobile with a cracked screen, 7″ tablet with a cracked screen, USB cables, 3m x 2 m projector, UV printed chiffon fabrics 2.40 m x 1.60 m, metal polls 1.6 m HD video 2:15 min

3.20 x 2.60 m x 10 cm

Flawed Object (video)

Flawed Object (detail)

An area of some importance (2019)

My research will juxtapose the nomadic state of my family and their search of a new life in Kazakhstan and southern Siberia with the space race (the ultimate human journey into unknown territories) and space exploration as an imposed unifying ambition for the USSR’s citizens.

Visually I am trying to understand, depict, imagine the fragments of information that my family had at the time about the grand and very secret projects of the USSR. Their knowledge, I’ve been told consisted of a disjointed combination of rumours, wild guesswork and speculation, even though they might have directly contributed with their labour to the infrastructure creation leading to the nuclear test sites or Baikonur Cosmodrome.

(Google Maps, Yandex maps, family archive imagery)

The project was developed during the Digitalartistresidency.com https://digitalartistresidency.org/artists/letta-shtohryn/

and expanded on during the google maps residency at Offsiteproject.org in 01/10-30/11 2019
http://www.offsiteproject.org/Google-Maps 

Future memory – Dataforming (2018)


#textile #memory #data #future #nonprivacy

part of Textile memory (2018)

The Tension of things unsaid (2018)

 
The project is a semi-forensic analysis of psychological tension in celebrity photographs. The research spans across cases of sexual harassment, kidnappings and personal encounters (submitted online as a response to my call). The work looks at photographs of people of before one of them was accused/found out of abusing

the other. But also the work looks for imagistic traces of tension on a footballer’s face during a match that he played with a knowledge that his father was abducted at that moment.

The analysis explores a cognitive dissonance between the text and the image and follows the traces of the inner tension that are cemented over with a practiced smile to be photographed with someone with whom one shared a violent history.

The video search for the mental leftovers of the harassment looks into the scene of Transparent season 2 episode 3 filmed just after the leading actor Jeffrey Tambor harassed his co-actress Trace Lysette. The video is juxtaposed with the Lysette’s statement.

The installation creates a tangible presence of intertwined codependencies that interrupt the room is the center of it and simultaneously are such that have unwittingly to be considered when being in the space. Like a personal secret – the undisclosed is a scattered network of interconnected factors having little volume but occupying a large part of a space, whether mental or physical.

 

(50 m string, Images, Video, 2:20 min, Ikea chair, weathered rock, text)
@Listastofan, Reykjavik, IC (2017)

Christmas at my parents’ house(2017)


this work explores the fragile balance of family relationships

(50 m string, leveler tool, street sign, skateboard, mobile phone, cobblestones)

@RoundaboutLX (Lisbon, PT)

The residency was
Supported by the Arts Council Malta
Travel Grant

LisbonLQ1.jpeg (2017)


LisbonLQ1.jpeg is an enquiry into heritage artifice. It looks into an intertwined existence of digital and physical realms and explores fake heritage as an object that consists of visibly low-quality imagery printed onto and projected to a quality material object.

The project is inspired by encounters of pixelated digital images of Lisbon original tiles painted as wallpaper and pasted on new IKEA tiles in some location in Lisbon. Behind the facade with fake heritage objects, there’s a compilation of decay, precariously balanced structures and temporary architectural arrangement, all to support the image of a facade which then becomes only an image of itself reposted online.
 
Found objects, superimposed image of tiles, print out.
 
Part two of the project – LisbonLQ2.jpeg took place in 2019 @ Zaratan contemporanea

Flytrap considers historical burdens ( 2017 )

 

A speculation on what drives Ukrainian far right groups in post-2015 revolution time. The work is also a response to the nationalism-provoking bait in a form of historical weight of disputed memories. The newspaper cut outs that refer to experiences of people who were being sent to Siberian camps as “enemies of the USSR.” Some conservative media utilise those tragic experiences as a populist strategy in western Ukraine to fuel the othering and hate towards the east Ukrainian displaced people that have moved to large cities in west Ukraine to flee the war against Russia that takes place there.

 
The work has got elements of long train journey that is the first traumatic experience a person who was sent to Siberia would encounter. The objects are based on my family’s story who were in Siberia working in forestry from 1945-1969 (10 years of which is labour camps). These objects like domino sets are used to spent time as communal activity throughout the journey back to Ukraine, the birch relates to the landscape seen outside the window for several days. The added elements of tablets that are used, like domino sets in the past, to kill time of the journey (although a solitary activity) within Ukrainian wast rail network that brings the soldiers from west to the east of the country and the displaced people in the same trains vice versa. Now the videos of the first exiled journeys are used to accelerate the non-acceptance of the newcomers.

 

Video (Gulag archival footage) on loop 7 min, tablet 7″,
duct tape, birch wood, LED,
domino sets, newspaper cut out.

Continental Thread. An unfinished project (2017 – )


The performance/installation was a poetic attempt to link together two drifting elements. An inevitable force of separation connected by a feeble thread without any ability to actually pull the drifting entities together rather measure the width of their separateness. The exchange of thread not unlike the exchange of messages over distance, a separation inevitably is complete, as one can only perform it over a limited amount of time when the result is a history of exchanges and no tangible alteration of the drift. Drift happens whether we resist it or not. 

@ Thingvellir National Park 
with Nicolas Borchers

  string/video/performance

2079 Harbour Sounds.pdf (2017)

Part of Time’s Up exhibition. “Archived Futures Harvest ” curated by FOAM – an archive,  a miscellanea of documents and objects that have supposedly originated from the near or far future. Part speculative archive part laboratory.

The work consists of an archived log book from the year 2079. As evidence of a transformed island-society, it gives clues on the general state of society and the island, when subtly focuses on diminished crops and their lucrative trade. It’s a detective story without a clear crime scene.

(log books sheets, three jars of coffee samples)

Another (2017)

In this alternative reality following an urgency to save humanity from sinking into inequality and test a new way of non-patriarchal governance, a woman cosmonaut is being sent to be the one who starts a future moon colony. The colony is humanity’s attempt to test a new model of society and strive for utopia.

Another imagines an alternative moon landing. It merges the footage of the first woman in space – Valentina Tereshkova with footage of the moon landing imagining her as the first human on the moon. In this alternative reality, they make space suits that fit women. Taking the visual documentation of the process of Valentina’s first trip into space orbit, one can read in the process putting on her spacesuit gestures of collective care and support from the staff.
These elements to me have parallels with setting off to leave homeworld into a new unknown place, with Eastern European rituals performed before going on a journey and with communal family care in helping the traveller to pack.

(This work takes Valentina Tereshkova’s image and experience 
outside of the context of her current political views.)


HD video : 5:48 min

Extracts above edited to 00:59 min

Archival footage from NASA, ESA, Roskosmos, Icelandic TV
 


Commissioned by
Modern Music Days, Malta 

First screened at Teatru Manoel, Valletta
Response to a score by Karl Fiorini “City of lost chances”


Shown at :

Rhythms of vision at Teatru Manoel, Valletta, MT (Feb 2017)
Spazju Kreattiv (DHRA), Valletta, MT (Sep 2018)
MuZA program (Mahalla festival), Zebbug, MT (Nov 2018)

 

Now no longer – Now not yet (2016/2019) 
(MFA degreee work)

2016/2019 (sound)
Sound : Andrew Pace

 “Now no longer – Now not yet” explores presence in time though Being-with-others. It is a joint exploration of experiences with others that grounds us to the present. It Interprets the present moment as the dash between the moment in the past and moment in the future, the moment of Now between now-no-longer and now-not-yet.

The work looks at geological phenomena for methods of presence, at earth time for perspective, at alchemical elements for experiences of mental transformation, at the chemistry of rocks for the creation of memory, and at tectonic growth for habits of letting go.


HD single channel video
09:08min
this extract 00:34 min

Photo (bottom right): Elisa von Brockdorff
Photo (top right and middle): Rocio Garcia Torres

Sound : Andrew Pace
Performers : Letta Shtohryn, Faisal Sadegh, Karlem Sivira,
Hugo Mantellato, Laura Hegarty, Antony Plasse  

ICL filming was supported by Arts Council Malta Travel Grant

Camera Obscura (2014) 

The project uses the techniques of Camera Obscura not only to bring outside space to inside space but also to explore safe spaces for observation within a public space in an overpopulated environment. 

A shelter of an opposite space, it counterbalances the intensity, overcrowdedness and feeling of being overwhelmed at yearly Notte Biance event, where between 40000 and 80000 people gather for one evening in 0.62 sq Km of space.

With Nicolas Borchers and Berak Eyiceoglu


At Notte Bianca, 2014, Valletta
supported by Notte Bianca (ACM, Malta)


(plywood, paint, lenses, audio)
240 cm x 240 cm x 480 cm
(plywood, paint, lenses, audio)