Recording My Data Set

72″ Aluminum Hard Disk with Video Projection

Recording My Data Set is an ongoing project in which I am accumulating my biometric data using a range of analogue and digital technologies including: fingerprinting; physical measurements; optical, thermal, and Voltaic imaging techniques. I am most interested in the variations detected in my physiology from moment to moment as these techniques capture slices of my identity. In contrast to forensic and other systems of biometric analysis that are looking for consistency within a data set, I am taking the captured data and emphasizing the morphological differences. The video projection in the alcove is a set of 30 fingerprints from my left index finger captured in rapid succession, analyzed and then digitally edited. As the video fades from print to print one can see the variation in the enlarged impressions created by the same finger. The fingerprints have been projected to the size of my head leaving a trace of my identity as a virtual imprint on paper.

I have begun the Recording of My Data Set with my fingerprints because they are common markers of identity that can be presented as a series of enigmatic portraits. The subtle differences among each impression of the fingerprints show the vitality of individuality being processed by a homogenous technology. I became interested in the analysis of fingerprints because the technology is undergoing a revolution as digital techniques—including Volta Potential Mapping using the Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP)—are replacing direct dusting. Materials Science Researchers Geraint Williams and Neil McMurray have recently shown “that the SKP technique is able to visualise fingermarks obscured beneath optically opaque soot films and retrieve ridge detail in instances where fingermarks have been physically removed (e.g. by rubbing with a tissue) from a metal surface.”1 Fingerprints have been admissible in court as identifying markers of individuals for over one hundred years; and only recently the technologies have accelerated in their development to improve the image quality of the captured impression. I continue to wonder about the unexpected results that are produced by the elusive and ever changing aspects of our identities as these indirect surveillance techniques continue to propagate.

I am archiving written descriptions of the biometric techniques used to capture the information onto the accompanying Aluminum hard disk. The sculpture of a data-storage device allows viewers to act as a stylus, able to both optically read the inscribed texts and touch the surface, thereby leaving a trace of themselves.

1Williams, G., N. McMurray. “Latent fingermark visualisation
using a scanning Kelvin probe.”
Forensic Science International 167 (2007): 102–109.
Available online 4 October 2006