the possibility of an army
phone verified accounts bringing the Hessian army back to life
Using follower bombing as art performances, the artists Constant Dullaart continues the research into attention and identity as a commodity on social networks, and has recently created a large sum of custom created artificial Facebook identities.
Many websites offer an option to login in with Facebook credentials due to the strict controle of the service on the reliability and verification of the social medium. In a time where the open borders in Europe are under pressure, and Syrian identities are sold to people that long for a better future, virtual identity systems, and their reliability become a topical analogy.
Due to the large financial incentive through advertisement revenue, there is a large industry creating Facebook accounts that can be used for commercial purposes only, and controlled en masse by dedicated software.
With a press of a button hundreds of artificial accounts can like a certain Facebook post, group, political party, celebrity, brand or artist. Influencing advertisement revenue and cost, elections, or feigning consumer interest.
These profiles are not representative of actual human entities, and are only created to pass for people through Facebook’s detection algorithms. Somewhat similar to how a social registration number creates a physical legal identity.
With generated names and interests, with downloaded images, these accounts have verified email addresses, and the most valuable profiles are Phone Verified Accounts, so called PVAs.
PVAs generated with United States based phone numbers are most valuable since they are checked less by Facebook, than profiles verified with Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Filipino for example.
The last countries playing a big part in the artificial virtual identity industry.
Although this industry has been active for many years, commodifying our idea’s of what shapes an online identity, many journalists, political parties, institutions, and consumers still believe that the quantified attention of a number of likes or friends on Facebook suggests a validation of quality.
By collecting a large collection of custom made PVA’s into an army, Dullaart is commenting on the use of these false validation systems.
Where PVA’s are normally used for commercial gain, Dullaart will use them for performative and artistic gestures only.
An argument in a political conversation is suddenly liked by thousands of people, and an aspiring artist suddenly has a lot of people speaking of her work.
The newly created profiles that shape the army will be based on the identities of the 18-th century Hessian auxiliaries contracted for military service to the British during the American revolutionary war. Using all the actual names of the mercenaries, and acting in the spirit of the army as studied by Professor Doctor Holger Gräf, of the Hessian Historical Landes Ambt.
The yearly income generated by renting out the Hessian Mercenaries equaled 7 times the tax revenue of the state Hessen-Kassel, and gave Frederick II the opportunity to build many public works, amongst which the Fredericianum in Kassel, and many public roads.
After the presentation of the army on the 10th of November in Kunsthalle Schirn in Frankfurt, the army will be for rent to pay for the maintenance (the profiles need rented internet proxies to keep from being killed off by Facebook) , and act under the command of Constant Dullaart and an editorial board discussing which valuable contributions the army can deliver in the political, cultural, or poetic realm on Facebook.
Dullaart wil show the experiences in creating and controlling the army for artistic purposes, as well as previous research into new types of digital materials for artists to use.