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15.06.2020

Ready-Made Truths

From the digital landscapes designed for the video game “Metal Gear Solid 2,” the artist Lucas Lugarinho opts for “ready-made truths” as strategies to play with images that, in face of fake news and capitalizable data, revise the fictions that are presented to us via pixels.

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Notes

  1. Biased algorithms are the foundation of machine learning. They are what drives intelligent machines to make decisions by examining different types of biases most commonly found in datasets by identifying, for example, historical data or stereotypes that already exist in society according to hegemony.

  2. Deepfakes are synthetic media that replaces a person’s likeness in an original source image or video for someone else’s—for both deceitful or entertainment purposes. The term deepfake was coined in 2017 by Reddit users in subforums dedicated to implementing neural networks to enhance computer vision algorithms capable of generating pornographic content using the likeness of famous persons, as well as memes or other forms of entertainment media. The highly deceivable nature of this technology poses a challenge to the future of digital communication and politics.

  3. Steven Poole, “Before Trump: the real history of fake news,” The Guardian, November 22, 2019

  4. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, is a three-day-long world premier event in the city of Los Angeles for computer and video games and related products.

  5. The exploitation of the overabundance of data is a tactic widely employed by ready-made truth militias, but this strategy has actually been in use by media monopolies for a long time now – news conglomerates just redesigned anti-piracy technologies into social engineering algorithms. The music industry for example has pioneered the method of content poisoning, the practice of sharing corrupted data into servers, hoping that users would be discouraged to pirate files by polluting their networks to later preach about the unsafe nature of these cyberspaces. Nowadays news channels have a big interest in topics such as the regulation of fake news and every scandal concerning misinformation on the web, as social media became for the news portals what Piratebay is for entertainment industries.

  6. It is important to notice that confirmation biases are also responsible for the idea that only the ‘otherness’ manages such tactics as false information. For example, the flat earther narrative that states that images of outer space are crafted by governmental space programs such as NASA. But despite political or religious inclination, ready-made truth militias operate within a wide range of socio-virtual groups, including the ones the reader might feel affiliated to: from teenagers indoctrinated by extremist right-winged twitch streamers, to leftist communist online book clubs. I believe the question lies more within a praxis of confirmation around biased information rather than a moral or ethical dilemma. For example this two biased news from left and right political opinions in Brazil: fake news from the right-wing and fake news on the left-wing

  7. It is worth mentioning that, in the vast networks that leak ready-made truths, there are numerous agents, both physical and virtual, that have crucial roles in spreading (mis)information. What can be traced back to 4chan’s prank ready-made truth raids to Wikipedia’s pages have now become a whole subindustry of its own, with cases such as the Cambridge Analytica’s electoral scandal. Organizations specialized in farming data to spread ready-made truths have updated old political publicity strategies to better define its targets, but it’s important to notice the ongoing role of both younger and older userbases in these schemes—mostly because of both groups unawareness on how the technology they use harvest their imaginaries. See more and

  8. See more in Susan Sontag, Regarding The Pain Of Others (New York: Picador, 2003), p.43: “Not surprisingly, many of the canonical images of early war photography turn out to have been staged, or to have had their subjects tampered with. After reaching the much-shelled valley approaching Sebastopol in his horse-drawn darkroom, Fenton made two exposures from the same tripod position: in the first version of the celebrated photograph he was to call “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” (despite the tide, it was not across this landscape that the Light Brigade made its doomed charge), the cannonballs are thick on the ground to the left of the road, but before taking the second picture — the one that is always reproduced — he oversaw the scattering of cannonballs on the road itself. A picture of a desolate site where a great deal of dying had indeed taken place, Beato’s image of the devastated Sikandarbagh Palace involved a more thorough arrangement of its subject, and was one of the first photographic depictions of the horrific in war.”

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