How We Act Together, screen based human imitation


If we think for a moment about our compulsive reactions on social media, we can see how unmediated they are, and often based on a few social instincts, including imitation. How We Act Together by Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald is an internet artwork where the viewer has to imitate, on webcam, simple gestures while watching other humans doing the same (no way to know if they are live or recorded) and if the computer vision metrics behind decide you’re done well, you’re recorded and streamed to others in the near future. McCarthy & McDonald define the consequent acts as “negotiating social gestures with each other and the algorithm”. But maybe unknown to the participants, the ultimate decision is always taken by the algorithm. And the algorithm is invisible in its internal behaviours, as it is for most of social media platforms. But in the end we forget about it, being mostly mesmerised by the faces and natural gestures of other fellow humans.


Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald – How We Act Together