One-tailed is an interactive installation that protests against the overuse of user tracking methods. It was designed by Domitille Debret for her master degree in Information Design at the Design Acamdemy Eindhoven. This webpage explain the process and technical details of the project. It is composed of 5 different scripts and a specially composed database.

This project was technically made possible by Giacomo Nanni, Cyril de Kock, Rick Wouters and Quentin Creuzet.
Photo Credits: Peter Cox

Overview

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)

One-Tailed proposes a gentle act of anarchy, meant to disrupt online tracking procedures. The installation is designed to beat the ‘opponent’ at their own game, perverting its mechanisms and methods. In fact, the movements of a fish in its tank are traced by a camera (1) and converted into cursor actions onto the screen (4). These movements can be misinterpreted as human screen actions, thus creating fake statistics that will be analysed by the web operator (5). The fish is browsing through a series of specific websites from a specially compiled database (6), containing a list of websites that track the fish at the same time as it navigates the website. The absurdity of this analogy tends to expose the idiotic over-use of counting and of data driven decision processes. This protest can perhaps be referred to as a form of stat-activism: misusing statistics in a critical tool that will drive users to question their online agency.

Script one – getColor.py

(1)
(2)
(3)

getColor.py permits to idetntify the color range of the fish in its tank. When launched, the script launch the webcam, a video recording and thresold window. (1) The trackbars allows to define the precise color range in HSV (hue, saturation, lightnes ) that will be use by the Script two to initiate the tracking. (Using imutils 0.5.3 library)

Script two – fishControl.py

(1)
(2)
(3)

fishControl.py open a video frame that calcul every 5ms the color of every pixels (1) (2). When it detects the right colorRange it identifies the position of the fish in the tank and keeps memory the last 5sec of his trajectory.

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)

These position data become the values to control the computer cursor. When these datas are a round the same position for more than 3sec, it generates a clic. And when the are below or above a certain value, it triggers the scroll of the page.

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)