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STIR

Visit the project at stir.veryveryshort.com

Every day, every person on earth participates in the same activity. They wake up. How is the nature of the waking process a reflection of the times we live in?

Stir is a personalized wake-up service and socially-engineered performance. You can sign up as either a Sleeper, to received a customized wake-up message, or as a Rouser, to join a global, networked call center to leave messages for Sleepers.

Where is the line between personalization and dehumanization? At the heart of Stir's "personalization engine" is a psychometric analysis of the Sleeper based on their publicly-available social media data, used to "brief" their Rouser on their needs and vulnerabilities. In so doing, the project contends with the invasive and invisible operations on personal data by appropriating the same analysis tools used by marketers and, more specifically, Cambridge Analytica who used psychometrics to sway voters in the 2016 US election.  

When we sleep we are our most vulnerable selves. What are the rules of play for mediated expressions of affection? How do we express care amid the computational creation of identity? Stir places the Rouser in the position of finding out. In our society, talk tracks are used to express terms of endearment. The human voice is just a warm, familiar delivery mechanism for otherwise cold, clinical assessments. "Bedside manner" is packaged and delivered across remote locations. 

Stir was made in collaboration with Rebecca Lieberman and Avner Peled and was produced and supported by the National Film Board of Canada and Arte. The piece premiered at IDFA DocLab 2017.

 
 
 
 

The project was created in English, French, and German and has reached people in cities across the world, from Paris to Singapore to Casablanca to Warsaw.

The Rouser's message gets dynamically-mixed with original music that corresponds to the Sleeper's personality type. Below is a sample of messages that Rousers have created for Sleepers.

  Left: Sleeper experience mimics an alarm clock app but also connects to you through Facebook or Twitter. Right: Rouser experience provides a briefing on the Sleeper; each briefing is dynamically generated based on the Sleeper's unique personality profile.

Left: Sleeper experience mimics an alarm clock app but also connects to you through Facebook or Twitter. Right: Rouser experience provides a briefing on the Sleeper; each briefing is dynamically generated based on the Sleeper's unique personality profile.

 

"Uncharted Rituals" presentation at IDFA DocLab 2017. Pictured here is collaborator Avner Peled and myself doing a live demo, in which the audience is waking up my mother 6,000 miles away in California.

 Image by Nichon Glerum, courtesy of IDFA DocLab 

Image by Nichon Glerum, courtesy of IDFA DocLab 


Original music and sound design: TK Broderick
Acting: Rena Anakwe (English/German); Sofi Lambert (French)
French editing: Pierre Vannier

Credits:
Concept: Julia Irwin (content) and Rebecca Lieberman (design)
Lead development: Avner Peled
Additional development: Rebecca Ricks