Monetizing concern is a work by Darius Kazemi built for Regarding Spectatorship.
Darius Kazemi is an artist and programmer working under the moniker “Tiny Subversions”. Kazemi operates an army of bots – small programs that create automated Twitter feeds, Google accounts or other randomly generated online “users” – inhabiting the virtual sphere with witty nonsensical comments, pranks and poetics. His best-known works are the “Random Shopper” (a program that bought him random stuff from Amazon each month) and “Content, Forever” (a tool to generate rambling thinkpieces of arbitrary length). Twitter has recently admitted around ten percent of its users are actually bots. “Bot militias” exercise increasing influence over public opinion, particularly in areas of conflict and social unrest, changing the meanings of participation and spectatorship within the public sphere and stretching the limits of political agency.
For his new work realized in the context of the exhibition, Kazemi has created a Google bot, an automated account that will randomly search for protest related content, and will, in turn, automatically receive advertisements and commercial offers from Google’s own bots, according to a profile slowly built to match its automated search history. A closed feedback loop of online protest and e-commerce reveals the mechanisms at work with the increasing quantification and datafication of human experience.
A software robot was programmed to be curious about political protest worldwide. It spent a few days doing hundreds of Google and Amazon searches solely for terms related to social-media-adjacent revolutionary activity from the last five years. Meanwhile, Google and Amazon collected information about this robotic user.
What you see here is a reflection of products that Amazon thinks the robot might be interested in purchasing.