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“The Follower” is a creepy art project that tracks Influencers with open cameras and AI and shows how their Instagram photos were taken.

“The Follower” is run by Belgian artist Dries Depoorter, known for his use of technology in art projects. Depoorter produced the “Quick Fix” machine that sells likes and followers, for example, or had visitors control unsecured CCTV cameras via PlayStation controllers in “The Lookout”.

His first major AI project, “The Flemish Scrollers”, started in July 2021 and monitors live streams of Flemish government meetings with AI software. The AI detects politicians playing on their smartphones and shares the scene on Twitter and Instagram with a request to focus on the meeting.

“The Follower” shows the story of a photo

In his new art project, “The Follower”, Depoorter again turns to the topic of AI surveillance. This time, instead of monitoring politics, the artist turns to Instagram. In his project, Depoorter identifies the place where Influencers took photos and shows a video clip of how this photo was taken.

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For this, Depoorter recorded streams from open access cameras for weeks. Such cameras are often located near well-known landmarks and are publicly accessible.

He then collected Instagram photos published by Influencers with over 100,000 followers who tagged one of the monitored locations in their photo. Using AI video analysis, the artist could then identify influencers in the collected videos and show behind the scenes of influencers’ pictures.

Depoorter wants to draw attention to the dangers of new technologies

The published videos show how much work and fine-tuning goes behind what appears to be a snapshot. They also show how easy it is for a tech-savvy person to use AI technology to track people.

He said the idea for “The Follower” came to him when he was looking at an open camera and someone was taking pictures for about 30 minutes. He wondered if he could find that person on Instagram, Depoorter told Vice.

“If you check out all my work you can see I show the dangers of new technology,” Depoorter said. “I hope to reach a lot of people of making it really simple. I really don’t like difficult art. I like to keep it really simple.”

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For more information and more examples, visit the project page for “The Follower.”

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Summary
  • Belgian artist Dries Depoorter releases his new project "The Follower".
  • "The Follower" uses open access cameras and AI to find out how an Instagram photo was taken.
  • Depoorter now regularly publishes video clips showing Influencers at work.
  • In this way, the artist wants to draw attention to the dangers of new technologies.
Sources
Max is managing editor at THE DECODER. As a trained philosopher, he deals with consciousness, AI, and the question of whether machines can really think or just pretend to.
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