Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dmitry's computer thinks he is a woman

My friend the photographer Dmitry Kostyukov recently experienced rich dialog with an algorithm belonging to a swimwear company. He's been mistaken for a Y chromosome, and invited to be a brand influencer. This exposes one facet of what advertising has become. Caveat emptor. I reproduce below the text of his statement about the project illustrated here. After the statement, the curated photos. Well done, Dima.

My computer thinks I am a woman.
I found it quite a long time ago, but it was mostly just a funny topic for a small-talk between friends.
How I've recognised this about my computer? Sometimes via the feminine form at google translation, sometimes by "Merci, Mademoiselle Dmitry Kostyukov d'avoir acheté votre TGV ticket", sometimes by automatic redirection to the Women section at online shops and other small things. Did I do something, especially for this? No. It's just happened somehow. But one day I got an email with a proposal of collaboration. After a brief conversation, I realised that it's a proposal of collaboration to me, but not as a photographer, but as a model for the women's swimming suits brand. And yes, they produce swimming suits only for women, founded by women and of course they are very progressive, from the North of Europe and publish diverse models.
I was never hiding my identity, and I decided to say "yes" to collaboration to check how the algorithm really sees me. So on January 22, I became Bright Ambassador with a nickname Bright_Woman. I was recommended to have a Bora-Bora bikini or Scarlet Cora One Piece. I decided to start with Scarlet. I received a welcome email from CEO (obviously automatic), the possibility to share 15% discount with my friends (let me know if you need one) and of course a package with a swimming suit - welcome to the connection of online and offline world. Indeed, I know this is the way how brands trying to sell their products - all of us know it - but there is also the way how the machine see us. So what may it see? I am 82 kg which probably means a plus-size (for the average height) woman, which sometimes reading feminist texts, with 10K followers at Instagram. Apparently, I suit for this advertising.
Is it all true? I got the message during the winter. If my computer knows me at least a little bit, it should know I never even go to the beach vacation. I've probably gone to the proper holiday when you need a swimming suit, and consciously go to the beach maximum two times in my life. I am not even sure if I have swimming trunks or shorts, in general. But the algorithm assumes I do all this.
Using the brand's Instagram and iconic Dutch beach portraits as references, I went to the nearest beach - at The Hague in February, with the crazy wind, rain and +7 degree C (which feel like 0) - to connect the algorithm and contemporary brand's vision with my actual reality.