Interactive Art


Price: Goldene Nica - Golden Nica

Timo Toots (EE)


Cyberarts 2012 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2012

Memopol-2 is a social machine that maps the visitor’s information field. When an identification document such as a national ID card or a passport is inserted into it, the machine starts collecting information about the visitor from (inter)national databases and the Internet. The data is then visualized on a large-scale custom display. People using the machine will be remembered by their names and portraits. 

The Cyrillic spelling of the installation’s name refers to George Orwell’s concept of Big Brother from his dystopian novel 1984. Over the past decades, technology has transformed the surveillance of society. When surfing the Internet, paying with an ATM card or using an ID card, people leave their digital traces everywhere. The Internet and social networks gather and provide a great deal of personal information, and a person’s profile is no longer constituted by his or her physical being alone. Background checks through Internet search engines and social network sites have become routine. Memopol-2 enables us to make a thorough background check on ourselves, mirroring our virtual image. 

Estonia is well ahead of other countries in governmental data collecting. Estonia has used electronic ID cards for ten years and has built a system that interconnects all governmental databases. Personal ID-card readers provide a simple means of accessing the data. In the government portal, people can see their data, from prescription drugs to high school exams, from tax reports to driving licenses. The online interface has light green, friendly and trustful aesthetics. Memopol-2 is a reaction to these developments and uses contrasting aesthetics. It is big and evil, dark and scary. It projects present-day technology into retro-futuristic times. The tools of 1984 are already here, but the question is how do we use them. In peacetime these tools add a lot of comfort to everyday life, but what happens when the political winds change.

Idea, design, programming: Timo Toots (EE)
Co-designer: Martin Rästa (EE)
Co-programmer: Tanel Külaots (EE)
Co-programmer: Arne Gödeke (DE)
Sound design: Hendrik Kaljujärv, Karl Saks (EE)