111111111: DataSelf and a date with yourself

111111111: DataSelf and a date with yourself

Lena Golub
Lena Golub


I. Acquaintance

Imagine an acquaintance with a work that could technically be described as follows: on the wall there is a three-meter canvas with embroidery of black and white sequins (1); on the screen o the wall – an image of a database of everyday life, consisting of 32 items (2).

How can the relationships of these objects be represented in one space? I ask this question and challenge the audience’s imagination. This work does not yet have its final form, it is work in progress; the artist Lesya Ilyenok is involved in creating in.

“For the first time I tried to sketch the exposition of a project with a draft name “DataSelf” — an analogue of DataSet, which is the basis for algorithmic generation. I usually have a hard time imagining exhibiting my work because I focus on the process. But here immediately there was an understanding that the embroidery with analog visualization of data and the digital map, on which this embroidery was made, should be both exhibited”,

– the artist set herself a task for the atypical registration of her daily actions throughout the whole year.

Once Lesya said that the ideas for so many of her projects come obsessively in dreams. “DataSelf” did not come in a dream, but was born in a similar way, after having broken through an uncontrolled stream – of data this time.

II. Process

Lesya chose a laborious method of data processing to create this work – embroidery, which is preceded by the compilation of a digital map with 32 key everyday phenomena. They are encrypted daily in a simple binary code (where 1 is action, 0 is no action). Using this cipher, the artist fills the fabric with black and white sequins.

“Even inside a dream, it’s the process that matters to me, not the result.”

If you interpret Lesya’s actions within from the point of view of result, then they seem empty and strange. But as soon as we translate them into the logic of process, everything acquires weight and volume.

“I take actions that have no clear purpose; what others would call ‘wasted labor’. “

Wasted labor. Sewing the same thing every day does not entail any change or gain. For Lesya significance lies not in the abstract moment in the future, but in the time of experience while creating a work.

Why is it not enough to keep a digital diary of data, why are this symbolic copying and deliberate complication of the analytical mechanism necessary? As soon as we ask the question “for what?” everything collapses, because we are not here and now.

Let’s return to an imaginary situation of exposure, where in the conditions of the greatest tension between the digital and analog we register the contrast of durations: the speed of digital analysis opposed to the perseverance and slowness of handicraft actions. In order to leave a trace of the day, you need to devote at least one hour of your time to embroidery.

The embroidery procedure enhances the sense of temporality. Filling in a column is an additional 33rd action, which will always have a value of 1.

III. Practice

Other problems are also packed into the work-practice. For example, the question of digital hygiene and our data routes. Data about actions and habits are used in ghost mechanisms that manipulate our requests.

This secrecy attacks with suspicions: how and where does the information go; What opportunities exist to resist this filthiness of our digital world? The way Lesya chose is to live through her data.

“Yesterday I noticed that many of my projects, including this one, are related to personal data. In “DataSelf” I record the circumstances of my day, and for another I have created an array of 888 images of an apartment … “

The shape of the “DataSelf” is peaking in an impenetrable digital environment. The data is transferred to the area of self-care and becomes visible: the first step is a table, the second is a canvas with a shimmering sequin glitch. Even before the encounter at the exhibition, we can catch the main thing in this work – the practice of attention to one’s existence.