IAMI - woven data portrait


The whole is more than the surface of the parts, Aristotle

For IAMI, we are thinking about how private data could portray a sitting subject in the age of social media and the internet. Of course, there’s always the question about how private, private data really is. The first of these will be our very own self-portraits, a data visualization of each of us.

Nora Ligorano through fiber optic mesh

Nora Ligorano through fiber optic mesh

These are full body “portraits” inspired by Durer’s portraits of Adam and Eve, Gertrude Stein’s Identity: A Play and the Quantified Self. We are making information our pallet: portraying an individual by aggregating their physical activities and psychological states as a method for generating their visual representation.

Woven portraiture is an offshoot of the tapestry tradition. In style these portraits relate to the tapestry cartoons during the 1700’s, many of which were full body figures. The one that stands out to us is the woven silk portrait of Joseph Jacquard, the inventor of the Jacquard loom, which the mathematician and inventor of the mechanical computer Charles Babbage owned.

In December 2013, we introduced IAMI with Catharine Clark Gallery at Miami Project during Miami Basel.

IAMI on display at Catharine Clark Gallery

IAMI on display at Catharine Clark Gallery

IAMI is a constantly changing, woven data portrait displaying an abstract representation of our own activities and our responses to a self-reporting emotional survey. These activities are collected and generated by the FitBit, a data collection device.

Three times per day, IAMI contacts the “sitter” of the portrait by SMS or email to find out how they’re feeling. It asks 11 questions about how they feel. They input this data using a mobile device. These responses are displayed as changing color fields.

Answering self-reporting emotional survey

Answering self-reporting emotional survey

There are three modes IAMI’s sitter chooses to display, RTST PRTRT (portrait of the artist, our recorded activities), SKETCH MODE realtime collection of the subject’s activities and emotions, and the FINAL PORTRAIT.

In sketch mode, the tapestry displays for a given period of time (user defined) which we consider the sitting session.

  • the day of the week - we’ve chosen a color for each day from Thai/Khmer culture;
  • the subject’s number of steps;
  • their distance walked and activity score;
  • and weight gain or loss.

When the sketch session is committed, after 2 - 4 weeks, IAMI displays the final portrait.

IAMI displaying emotional afternoon emotional response

IAMI displaying emotional afternoon emotional response

IAMI is the second of five planned fiber optic tapestries each displaying different datasets.

Software designed by Luke Loeffler in collaboration with LigoranoReese;
Hardware designed by Levy Lorenzo and Eric Singer;
Consultation and weaving by C T D Studio.