2019 | AT/UK/Senegal | Animation,Fiction,Experimental,Data Visualization,Music Video,Short

Algo Rhythm

  • french, wolof englisch 14 mins
  • Director | Manu Luksch
  • Writer | Manu Luksch, Mukul Patel
  • Producer | Manu Luksch

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In marketing and the retail sector, data analytics is widely used to profile and microtarget consumers and to predict behaviour. The ultimate goal, apparently, is for humans to be able to outsource all decision-making to machine intelligence (make Google do it!). What is at stake within the political realm?

Through its auratic and poetic use of computational imaging technologies, ALGO-RHYTHM scrutinizes the limitations, errors and abuses of algorithmic representations. (production note)

The data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica recently set off multiple scandals. The firm was credited with an important role in the election outcome in the U.S. (presidential election 2016) and in England (Brexit referendum). Users of digital networks were deliberately targeted with disinformation and inflammatory propaganda on the basis of illegally gathered personal data. Surfacing in Algo-Rhythm is a firm called Data Analytica, which generalizes the corresponding principle: nowadays, elections are won by algorithmizing campaigns rather than buying votes. Manu Luksch situates this process in her film in a surprising location: Senegal is considered one of the most successful African democracies in which politically-engaged Hip Hop, in the role of watch dog, has had continued success in mobilizing resistance to the abuses of power.
In Algo-Rhythm, the West-African country becomes a perfect example of future confrontations regarding political representation and decision making. Two candidates for the office of president face Mr. X from Data Analytica, who is advertising his methods. The discourse occurs in the form of a rap or a rap battle. Luksch lets a political landscape arise that also includes traditional figures (a Griot woman) and the people. The form of the exchange is rhymed, language advanced by digitally syncopated beats. In the background of the image, what is being talked about is obvious the entire time: Mr. X, the Aladdin of data analysis lets reality crumble into data bytes. Manu Luksch acts out the data maneuver with aerial shots and other landscape images, which at a different level also take place with the networks (with the "drugs of the nation"): in a cloud of selection, photogrammetric and other information-logic-based picture image processes dismantle the old (political) world of analogue representation, that is, voting and representation of the political body. (Bert Rebhandl)

music video data analytics politics surveillance LIDAR