symbiotic violence

Abstract

by Vincenzo Fiore Marrese, Artistic research

A human community is a symbiotic entity. The Internet, a digital community, is a layer of the broad human community. Despite the rationality behind Information Technologies, the Internet outcome is often emotional.

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, the manipulated photo on the top left is based on photo by Amar Saleem https://www.pexels.com/de-de/foto/grauer-und-weisser-wolf-69350/ free to use under Pexels license

The hate speech online phenomenon appears a kind of emotion spread on the Internet. I’m working on a series of artwork around these themes. I developed a data-driven art engine based on a late XVI-century cryptography method to produce images and sounds. Likewise, I worked with a file destruction technique on some picture files.

Research

I contend that a human community could see as a symbiotic entity and that the Internet is a digital community, a layer of the broad human community. I frame the idea of “community” within the three main specifications[ref. 1] as “human group”[1] that “occupies a definite territorial area”[2], and it is composed of people that “have common activities and experiences”[3]. I call a “symbiotic entity” a set of subjects with a symbiotic dynamic. I call "symbiotic dynamic" the set of actions that shape the relationship between humans in the community, aiming for symbiosis. I frame the idea of “symbiosis” in the meaning of mutualism[ref. 2], “where symbionts (organisms in a symbiotic relationship) are mutually beneficial”[4]. I call a “digital community” a community that occupies the Internet as an areal. I call "threat" to the symbiotic dynamic any action that pushes the dynamic to diverge from the aimed symbiosis.

A symbiotic entity aims to integrate the majority of people. However, you can face unintended social isolation (loneliness) or intentional institutional isolation against, among others, violent individuals. One threat to the symbiotic dynamic on the Internet appears to be the use of violent language in the form of so-called hate speeches.

In my artwork in progress, I'm focussing on this theme within a frame I called the "Encyclopedia of irrational". Information Systems Development appear based on rationality[ref. 3]. However, on the Internet the outcome often can be vastly emotional. I frame this idea in a serie of works called "Encyclopedia of Irrational". I focus on a specific kind of apparently emotional thinking: magical thinking[ref. 4]: “the belief that one's (...) actions (...) can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one's inner, personal experience and the external physical world. Examples include beliefs that the movement of the Sun, Moon, and wind or the occurrence of rain can be influenced by one's thoughts or by the manipulation of some type of symbolic representation of these physical phenomena”[5]. I realized two artworks in the series "Encyclopedia of irrational". The first one is "I (don't) know the spell", presented in 2021. The second one is "symbiotic violence", not yet shown, updated with the hate-speech and the community as symbiotic entity themes. It is an ongoing developing process of new works.

I developed "symbiotic violence" within a data-driven art framework and damaging file data techniques. I decided to work on hate speech tweets in the English language. First, I designed a method to translate words into numbers. Then I translated the numbers into images and sounds. According to the idea of magical thinking, I developed an algorithm based on the gematria system described by Agrippa[ref. 5] in “De Occulta Philosophia”(1531). Gematria is[ref. 6] “a form of cryptography where Hebrew and Greek alphabets have alphanumerical equivalents”[6]. In "De Occulta Philosophia" you can find the alphabetic equivalents for the English alphabet. That assured me to set a creative junction between the emotionality (magical thinking) and the rationality (the algorithm). Since I am familiar with web development languages, I used PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) to elaborate the data and HyperText Markup Language (HTML) to develop an interface. I differentiated the algorithm to have two different outputs. I use the first output to create shapes and the second for sounds. The input was a corpus of around 1500 hate speech tweets[ref. 7]. This output gives me a set of two-dimensional coordinates, like points (fig. 1).

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, figure 1.

I used these points to build a polygon in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) image file format (fig. 2)

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, figure 2.

The second output gives me a set of numeric values to create sound oscillators (fig. 3).

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, figure 3.

I used these sets within the frame of Csound audio language programming. Then, putting together this graphic and sound source, I create a video animation. As the next step, I added two other elements to the video animation: an image and an emoji. I took a picture of a wild animal, a wolf, from the Internet. The wolf appears as a wild counterpart of the dog. A dog, as a domestic animal, is supposed to be tame. The wolf is supposed to be the opposite. A domestic animal is supposed to be not violent. There is a fascinating theory about how humans could see as a domestic species due to a self-domestication process[ref. 8]. I modified the wolf picture through a destructive file process, aiming to show the digital nature of the visual representation. I manipulated the wolf photo through a binary file editor, GHex. The purpose was to partially damage the reality mimicry aspect to expose the digital nature of the photo representation (fig. 4).

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, based on photo by A. Saleem, figure 4.

Then I used an emoji (fig. 5).

© VFMarrese, “Symbiotic Violence”, figure 5, emoji: Copyright 2020 Twitter, Inc and other contributors Code licensed under the MIT License: http://opensource.org/licenses/MIT Graphics licensed under CC-BY 4.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Emojis are part of everyday Internet users' language . Since I shaped tweets data, I found it relevant to integrate that kind of symbol into the work.

How can the Internet community react to hate speech preserving the symbiotic dynamic?

References

  1. Hoffer, C. R. “Understanding the Community.” American Journal of Sociology 36, no. 4 (1931): 616–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2767166. back to the text
  2. Watson, R.A., Pollack, J.B. “How Symbiosis Can Guide Evolution.” In: Floreano, D., Nicoud, JD., Mondada, F. (eds) Advances in Artificial Life. ECAL 1999. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 1674. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-48304-7_7. back to the text
  3. Klein, Heinz K., and Rudy Hirschheim. “Rationality Concepts in Information System Development Methodologies.” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies 1, no. 2 (1991): 157–87. doi:10.1016/0959-8022(91)90017-9. back to the text
  4. Vandenberg, B. (Invalid Date). magical thinking. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/magical-thinking. Accessed on 10 November 2022. back to the text
  5. Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius. and Compagni, V. Perrone. De occulta philosophia libri tres / Cornelius Agrippa ; edited by V. Perrone Compagni E.J. Brill Leiden ; New York 1992 back to the text
  6. Cheung, Ken. "God-inspired Words, Numbers, and Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of Life." Pacific Journal 12 (2017): 87-94. back to the text
  7. Pamungkas, E. W., Basile, V., & Patti, V. (2020). Do you really want to hurt me? predicting abusive swearing in social media. In The 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (pp. 6237-6246). European Language Resources Association. back to the text
  8. Wrangham R. “Humans: The Domesticated Primates.” The Wall Street Journal. Jan. 10, 2019 10:25 am ET, https://www.wsj.com/articles/humans-the-domesticated-primates-11547133935. (2019) Accessed on 1 December 2022. back to the text

Bibliography

  1. Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius. and Compagni, V. Perrone. De occulta philosophia libri tres / Cornelius Agrippa ; edited by V. Perrone Compagni E.J. Brill Leiden ; New York 1992.
  2. Cheung, Ken. "God-inspired Words, Numbers, and Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of Life." Pacific Journal 12 (2017): 87-94.
  3. Hoffer, C. R. “Understanding the Community.” American Journal of Sociology 36, no. 4 (1931): 616–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2767166.
  4. Klein, Heinz K., and Rudy Hirschheim. “Rationality Concepts in Information System Development Methodologies.” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies 1, no. 2 (1991): 157–87. doi:10.1016/0959-8022(91)90017-9.
  5. Pamungkas, E. W., Basile, V., & Patti, V. (2020). Do you really want to hurt me? predicting abusive swearing in social media. In The 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (pp. 6237-6246). European Language Resources Association.
  6. Vandenberg, B. (Invalid Date). magical thinking. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/magical-thinking. Accessed on 10 November 2022
  7. Watson, R.A., Pollack, J.B. “How Symbiosis Can Guide Evolution.” In: Floreano, D., Nicoud, JD., Mondada, F. (eds) Advances in Artificial Life. ECAL 1999. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 1674. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-48304-7_7.
  8. Wrangham R. “Humans: The Domesticated Primates.” The Wall Street Journal. Jan. 10, 2019 10:25 am ET, https://www.wsj.com/articles/humans-the-domesticated-primates-11547133935. (2019) Accessed on 1 December 2022.

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