"The Weather Followers" is a sculpture connected to a webapp that brings serendipity to your digital life, using constantly evolving weather data recorded by four weather instruments.
"The project offers humour, poetry and surprise as an alternative to 'smart' applications and predictive, comfortable digital routines. Instead of our decisions being driven by intangible algorithms and hidden lines of code, The Weather Followers helps us feel the speed and direction of the wind, the amount of particulate matter in the air, the intensity of the sun or the rhythm of the rain.
Nowadays, “smart technologies” give the magical impression that the power to control and predict any event is at your fingertips. Paradoxically, with the growing computational power of those tools, people are assisting to a reduction of their free will. Indeed, opaque algorithms of applications such as Google Instant , Siri, Alexa (or other online services) are increasingly influencing daily actions and decisions of their users, and are being called on to make choices without necessarily asking consent, moving away from suggesting what the user might like to taking “the best” decisions. These apps are meant to optimize life, suggest (and sometimes automatically renew, based on previous recorded data) the most efficient options or provide the most convenient solutions.
However, the downside of placing trust and wholeheartedly relying on algorithms is that some users become accustomed to a comfortable (digital) routine, leaving a minute space for experimentation, randomness, serendipity, spontaneity or simply for being surprised by life - elements, which are, in my opinion essential and rewarding.
The constant variations of weather are at the opposite end of the spectrum to the algorithmic organisation of life. This natural phenomena brings us unexpected changes, serendipity and may surprise us everyday, for better or worse. Thus it also exerts a strong – sometimes unnoticed - influence on our daily mood, health or morphology. Even if it becomes more accurately predicted and technically possible to alter (although ethically questionable), it remains one of the few natural elements which is not fully controlled or mastered in real time, neither by humans nor technology.
When your digital individual life follows the pollution
Polluted Selfie is a small weather instrument that allows you to take an unexpected “polluted selfie”. A filter alters the appearance of an image depending on the surrounding level of pollution recorded in real time by the device.
Instead of letting you show your best angle or improve your selfie with a shiny light Instagram filter, with Polluted Selfie the way your face is shown is affected by the levels of three main air pollutants (PM, CO2 and CO), each affecting a different parameter of the image. As a result, no single “polluted selfie” looks the same.
Polluted Selfie is also makes a link between the atmospheric and digital pollution. Depending on the level of the CO, your selfie will be digitally interrupted by a number of pop-up windows displaying the daily pollution forecast narrative taken from the London Air Forecast website: (http://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/Forecast/).
Adopting an aesthetic inspired by Net Art, glitch and computer viruses, Polluted Selfie asks what it means to be digitally polluted.
Additionally, Polluted Selfies allows citizens to act as environmental activists by sharing (on social media) their images, which indicate levels of pollution and their location.
When your digital audio life follows the rain.
Drizzly Rhythms plays unexpected music according to the rhythms of the rain. An optical rain sensor calculates what we can call the DPM (Rain Drop Per Minute), triggering a song from a user-suggested playlist with the closest BPM (Beat Per Minute).
Unlike Spotify and Youtube that suggest music according to your past listening histories, consequently leaving you in your own filter bubble, Drizzly Rhythms will always surprise you and enable you to discover new music.
For instance, heavy rain would trigger a Drum and Bass track while a gentle drizzly might play an easy listening song.
When your digital overwhelming life follows the sun
Thanks to his lux sensor, ‘Sun(e)rase’ - which will apply digital minimalism to your life. The stronger the sun intensity will be, the more data from the “climatefeeds” will be deleted.
Like a Snapchat message, before fully erasing the file, Sun(e)rease will give you the possibility to look at the photo for 5 seconds as a last souvenir.
To emphasize physically the deletion, sun(e)rase contains a motorized magnifying glass which will condense the sunlight to “burn” a thermo reactive ink as a metaphor of our digital - intangible - files being erased.