In VR, medically scanned, digitized human bodies become semi-transparent volumes that we can walk around, dive into, and interact with. These translucent data bodies can be combined with other kinds of personal identity, biometric and social data, thus promising new and powerful ways to represent and contemplate our digitized selves. In this presentation, Marilène Oliver and Walter Ostrander will present two VR projects made with medical scan data called My Data Body and Your Data Body that are currently being developed as part of the interdisciplinary art and science research project Know Thyself as a Virtual Reality.
My Data Body seeks to make visible and manipulable all the data that humans as individuals now endlessly generate and are responsible for, whilst Your Data Body troubles how we interact with, and are responsible for, the data of others. Both works ask questions about the aesthetics and ethics of data ownership, privacy and automation. In My Data Body the viewer is presented with a prone, passive figure as data processing site. Mac terminal, Facebook and Google data is written into cross sections of the body, passwords and logins run through veins and arteries, organs can be extracted and used to leave emoji or hashtag trails. Your Data Body presents rows and rows of scanned body parts that users can pick up and manipulate.
Depending on whether the scan was downloaded from an open source database or was donated, either an automated voice recites the scraped web data from the repository or a chatbot trained on various data usage agreements and digital charters converses with the user.
Making these VR projects is allowing the team to refine and develop a suite of open source software tools (for Unity and 3D Slicer) which, accompanied by a set of ethical guidelines and datasets, will be made available to other researchers and artists by the end of 2021.