YesNo by Timo Kahlen feels like “traditional” net art, a well crafted stuck webpage for the user’s aural and clickable enjoyment.
Since 2006, the RYBN collective has been using the tools of data mining (automated extraction of knowledge from large amounts of data) to subvert its own goals, building unusual representations and analyses of financial and social mechanisms. The project Antidatamining includes works such as “Flashcrash sonification”, a graphic and sound representation of the 20-minute stock market crash (and the 1,000,000,000,000 USD lost) that occurred on May 6, 2010. Another piece, “ADM / MLP”, is automation prototype for forecasting market trends, designed with the ultimate goal of suppressing human involvement in financial decisions, a factor that is still the major cause of errors and approximations. The latest software programmed by the collective is an amateur trading bot (named BOT) that has been used to invest in the financial markets. The goal of the software is not gain, but rather bankruptcy. With an initial capital of about ten thousand euros, the BOT takes improper decisions on purpose, according to the recommendations of internal algorithms, which can also be influenced by arbitrary external parameters in order to identify and anticipate future markets. The BOT’s decisions can be assessed daily on a dedicated online page that contains all the relevant financial data updated in real time, including a countdown timer set to the precise moment when final failure is expected. As with previous RYBN collective works, BOT surprises us with its weird (and extreme) but perfect use of an apparently neutral resource like data mining. But what makes this piece direct such a biting irony at the mechanisms of the financial world is that organizing intellectual energies for the purposes of extreme speculation and gain can have the same destructive results as a grotesque suicide-bomber software, scientifically programmed for self-destruction.