Eva & Franco Mattes, The Bots
The Bots is a series of video installations based on interviews with internet content moderators. The interviews were conducted in collaboration with journalist Adrian Chen during a year-long investigation. Actors Jake Levy, Irina Cocimarov and Bobbi Salvör Menuez reenacted the interviews from home, filming themselves using their phones. Each video is installed on the back of a customized office desk of the same brand used at Facebook’s Berlin moderation center, where the interviewees worked. To tell their stories the artists have borrowed the aesthetics of “fake makeup tutorials” often used on social media to bypass censorship. Serious discourse – addressing topics such as violence, sexual abuse, hate speech and terrorism – is constantly interrupted by makeup tips. Makeup is a way of concealing imperfections on our faces, in a way not so different from content moderation, which beautifies the surface of the internet by removing unwanted content.