Zero likes is a generative, machine learning project exploring the aesthetics of the neglected, negative spaces of the internet. An AI was trained to respond to more than 100, 000 Instagram posts that received zero likes, investigating the potential for machines to respond to abstract, human questions. Another AI was trained to respond to respond to the images generated by the first. The result is a glitchy, unsettling artwork accompanied by disconcertingly straightforward, automated captions.
People sitting on the backs of elephants (2017)
Likes’ are the primary metrics used by social network algorithms to quantify what is good, interesting content vs bad, uninteresting content. A post with zero likes will be pushed to the edges of the internet where it might be unlikely to be seen by a human again.
Statue of a bird sitting on top of a table (2017)
By reducing the the possibilities of internet space into a user interface, the platform begins to encourage our behaviour. In the case of Instagram, the structure of the platform informs our aesthetic decisions. It teaches us to create content that maximizes user engagement and share-ability. Predictably, most of the content for the zero likes project came from older Instagram users with limited follower accounts or people who are new to the system. These people have yet to learn from the platform, and are feeling their way through an unfamiliar system. They haven’t learned the tropes yet.
A pair of scissors (2017)
Boat floating on a body of water (2017)
A statue of an elephant
Dog layers on a bed with a blanket
Glass vase filled with lots of flowers
Man and a woman standing in a room
Man holding a toothbrush in his mouth
Man holds a cat in his hands
Man is holding a large teddy bear
Teddy bears sit on a table