Brooklyn fashion designer Xuedi Chen has designed a high-tech boob tube which turns the metaphor of exposing our data in the digital realm, into a physical commentary on the ‘unprecedented degree of potential exposure [that] comes with the current mode of existence.’
The ‘personalised wearable data-driven sculpture’ was designed using a mobile app that Chen developed especially for the purpose using the Node.js and PhoneGap development platforms, and 3D printed using Rhino software.
The mobile app and server provides real-time data for a mesh array of fabric (controlled by an Arduino, and linked to the app by Bluetooth) made from electrochromic film that can change opacity when a current is sent through it at a specific frequency.
The result is that as the app collects more data about the user ‘the more naked and exposed she will become,’
‘The transparency is dependent upon the location of the wearer. If I’m in a certain neighborhood, the corresponding patch of film will be very active as it fluctuates between opaque and transparent very quickly. The film does cover the whole piece and has some memory. So as you move throughout the day, it shows off a trail of your past locations. Most recent location is most transparent and fades over time back to opaque.’
Chen explains that she wanted to show our complicity with tech companies, highlighting how although many of us talk about privacy and the NSA, we all continue to voluntarily sacrifice our privacy every day for the convenience of Facebook and Gmail,
‘There currently exists a paradox in our internet culture. As a generation, we are simultaneously obsessed with publicity and privacy. While we publish and post details about our lives online, at the same time we demand the most advanced privacy protection software. An unprecedented degree of potential exposure comes with the current mode of existence.
I have ceded control of my data emissions and Based on my activity logs, Google clearly knows where I am, where I’ve been and possibly even where I’m going. Yet when I wanted a log of my location history, I had to go through numerous steps to “enable” tracking…
By participating in this hyper-connected society while having little to no control of my digital data production, how much of myself do I unknowingly reveal? To what degree does the aggregated metadata collected from me paint an accurate portrait of who I am as a person? What aspects of my individuality are reflected in this portrait?’