Design Academy Eindhoven / Instructors: Catelijne Van Middelkoop & Ryan Pescatore Frisk (2014)
This project embraces the absurdity of the widespread use of biometric recognition by creating absurd strategies to protect our identity from a digital perspective. “Tricking Biometrics” materializes in an exaggerated satirical way what we could do in order to keep our online privacy by reproducing, misplacing, multiplying, stealing, hiding, faking our biometrics so to trick or confuse recognition algorithms.
As the internet puts in relation products, services and people, the validity of our digital data and online activities remains a big problem. We observe a normalization of the use of biometric recognition as the perfect tool to serve a liberal economy built on a “user-centered” logic. It constitutes an authentication process using the least user involvement as possible.
The difference between processes to access control and identification becomes merely noticeable. Interactions with machines are more liquid, gates seems always open. User involvement is minimal: we no longer notice what we do; everything seems to operate like magic, to suit our anticipated needs. Digital and physical identities merge together. We are encouraged to give up our avatars; we have to be real, allowing our bodies to be turned into data. Digital trust is transparent, we feel merely concerned about the ultimate use of what we give up; we give them away because we are transparent. As reproduction techniques evolve, we can steal and copy everything, analog and digital.
Today it is possible to print prosthetics with real skin, but we can also counterfeit a fingerprint with glue. Sometimes technologies are not worth to compete with each other. We start developing defense mechanisms to protect us from the “big brother” paranoia. As the Tech economy encourages us to express our personality, today’s camouflage has to be schizophrenic. It is hard to disappear, but we can trick this system.
Tricking Biometrics is seeking a playful way to experiment with biometric recognition technology. We have the right to be paranoid, and feel concerned about our privacy. What if we can become the analog computer file we want? Can we register several accounts with different faces, a different finger print? Will this finger become our wallet? If MasterCard offers you to pay with a selfie, will someone seek for the opportunity to hack your face? What if we refuse to cooperate with an egocentric world and escape from identification?
This project doesn’t solve design problems. It is a fiction that tackles questions and a potential scenario accelerating the present in favor of a potential future.