Ashley Madison Angels at Work is part of a series of works researching Ashley Madison, a Canadian online dating service marketed worldwide to married people seeking an affair. In July and August 2015, an anonymous group called «The Impact Team» stole and released all of Ashley Madison’s internal data – including the entire website code and functionality, customer data and the CEO’s emails. The data breach revealed that - with a disproportionate number of male subscribers and virtually no human women on the site - Ashley Madison had created an army of 75,000 female chatbots to draw the 32 million male users
into (costly) conversations.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik use Ashley Madison as a case study to raise questions around the current relationship between human and machine, Internet intimacy and the use of virtual platforms to disrupt the physical.
The installation Ashley Madison Angels at Work confronts the viewer with female bots from the hacked Canadian online-dating platform Ashley Madison that are shown on monitors with movable TV trolleys.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik adapts the work to the location of each exhibition by using the data specific to the city such as Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, Athens and London.
Mounted on stands, viewers encounter the fembots at eye-level as seductive machine-creatures with robot-technology, artificial voices, and 3-D rendered human faces based on idealized beauty standards.
“Is anybody home lol?”
“What brings you here?”
For Ashley Madison Angels at Work in Paris, !Mediengruppe Bitnik use the pick-up lines encoded by Ashley Madison into their bots to form a choreography within the space. The exhibition space functions as a place of embodiment for the 5 bots located closest to its Paris location – 5 of the 61 fembots that were active in Paris at the time of the data breach. Each of these fembots has a name, an age and a specific location and provided “entertainment” to the 44,306 registered users in Paris.
The work was first shown at Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris in 2016, where all 61 bots from Paris were present in the installation.
Courtesy Annka Kultys gallery, London