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@FFD8FFDB

Creator: Derek Arnold. More info: Medium.

When working on a content-generating bot, there is a point where what you intend for the project to be gives way to what the art wants to be.

Runner Ups for this assignment:

  1. @GIFsofWiki
  2. @pomological
  3. @dronesweetie
  4. @autocompletejok

After looking through many Twitter bots, I really thought this security camera one was the most fascinating. This bot will post random stills from a list of unsecured webcams. According to the Twitter profile, all images are CC0 licensed, and the Quartz article I read explains that the bot will not post photos from particularly invasive cameras, or will try to crop out anything that will show too much information.

I think a signifying detail of good generative art is that it surprises even the owner. Even when the piece is complete, it stays unfinished.

The artist uses the invasiveness of security cameras as the constant, every photo feels like you’re spying on a space, hidden from view—a voyeur. Once you overcome the sense of intrusion, you can focus on the majesty of being able able to see the candid day to day of an enormous array of unknown locations. Looking through these photos brought me back to a story I read last spring from The New Yorker. At the time I felt uncomfortable when reading the story of The Voyeur’s Motel, but after exploring Arnold’s work, I think I can understand it a bit better now. There’s something transfixing about being the fly on the wall, looking out from where no one suspects there to be eyes. Arnold’s piece allows one to have that experience without the guilt. However, in The Voyeur’s Motel, you can begin to understand the adrenalin of seeing what you shouldn’t and nearly being caught.

[@FFD8FFDB is an] attempt to profit on the curiosities of casual voyeurs, piquing the curiosity of people that normally wouldn’t be a peeping tom.

In terms of creating @FFD8FFDB Arnold explains that he pulls the stills from a smaller list of his known camera’s, excluding any that are private. He will crop, colour adjust, and use Wordnik to caption the tweets with characters and graphics (just for effect).

This bot–rather, piece, social statement, expression, exploration, study– really struck me. It was the only one that really felt like the creator was trying to share something meaningful through social media and a programmed bot. I haven’t used Twitter in years but I think I may come back to this one every now and again, if not simply just to use the photos in projects.

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