Espacio EL DORADO Investigation | Interactive Installation Bogotá 2019

PREGON(IA)R is an investigation and installation exploring and envisioning first manifestations of AI in Popular Culture in Tropical Areas.
PREGON(IA)R is an AI Street Vendor Cry.

This installation remixes Artificial Intelligences with informal trade systems of street vendors.

Two of the first manifestations of AI arises from the "Computer Vision", a research field that is responsible for training computers to decipher images: facial and gestural recognition, as is currently the case with phone face filters. The second manifestation of AI is present in language, training the computer to talk, taking the form of chatbots and digital assistants, such as Siri and ALEXA, among others.

Despite the undervalue that is generally held on informal trade and popular culture in Colombia and tropical areas, since it is said to be contrary to the common idea of “progress,” it develops itself in relation to various technological dynamics enhanced by remix and ‘gambiarra’ and tropical hacking.

In Tropical Areas is very common to find street vendors offering their products using a megaphone. Over the years, they have been fine tuning and modifying their ‘carrozas’ or carts adding LEDs and sound systems that don’t demand the driver to yell any more. From their speakers come several jingles with various intonation techniques playing in loop from a USB Stick. These ‘Pregoneos’ (spanish word for this kind of advertising) call “Hey!”, “Don’t think about it anymore”, “It’s only thousand pesos”, etc. For some time already there are voice centrals with a collection of voices and singed jingles recording special songs for whatever product they are asked for (using Whatsapp Voice Messages), and distributing USB sticks for street vendors all over the country.

PREGON(IA)R is the vision of a physical advertising system developed by street vendors that uses engagement algorithms that sort micro targeted content from their voice bank, directed to the person that approach them. It is an installation that recognizes when a person stands in front of a pot and plays a jingle for a specific product that might be potentially liked. This investigation seeks to make digital dynamics graspable and tangible for inhabitants of the tropics while anticipating what might happen when AI becomes mainstream and penetrates popular culture beyond what scientists and engineers from the Global North imagine as use-cases.

PREGON(IA)R challenges as well the paradigm of no-progress in the popular culture of tropical areas, recognizing that Artificial Intelligence might probably arrived before to the streets than the academic spheres.

Inside the installation you can find a sound system composed of several speakers made with aluminum chocolate pitchers and electrodynamic exciters connected to a computer. Various sensors recognize when a visitor enters the space and stands in front of a pot / speaker. For each visitor a different jingle (pregoneo) is played promoting avocados for some, or tempered glass for others. In this way, every visitor hears a different ad when they stand in front of a pot / speaker.

The installation was first exhibited at Espacio El Dorado in Bogotá, Colombia.