The Spam Art Museum is an international art venue and museum headquartered in Cambridge, MA, USA. Its charter is to preserve famous works produced by the Spam Church art collective, educate about the true nature of Spam, and uphold the values put forward by Walter Benjamin. Primary members of Spam Church are research scientists based at MIT Media Lab, but the collective has quickly expanded to include hundreds of contributors across the globe.
WHAT IS SPAM?
Spam is a connective tissue that holds together our corporate digital society together. Behind every webpage, power grid and email chain exist spam. Silently but universally, spam has taken hold of every aspect of technology, community, and religion. We celebrate this powerful material's ability to transform society through the vast network of artists who have made it their medium. For indeed the history of spam is the history of the post-internet era.
HOW SPAM MEDIATES OUR WORLD
In the early days of the internet, email spam was an eclectic yet pervasive part of the digital world. Despite being a nuisance, its entrepreneurial authenticity spoke to a web that was transparent, absurd and clear in intention. Now, the world is steeped in the hyper-mediation of targeted advertisement, digital a/b testing and the commodification of social media. Instead of the internet with traces of spam, we now consume spam with traces of the internet.
The three axioms of spam
I. If you don't see spam around you, that means that everything around you is spam.
II. If you don't let spam into your medium, your whole medium will turn into spam.
III. The proliferation of spam is ubiquitous and sharply increasing.
Spam is machine learning
The first mass-scale, consumer-centered global deployment of corporate machine learning was spam filtering. These corporations' algorithms cut their teeth their filtering trillions of grandma's birthday e-cards and business offerings of Nigerian princes. AI was celebrated as a tool for removing the spamminess of the world a-la Bayesian Filtering.
Today, the story is the opposite: these filtering algorithms are now the central producers of spam, Throughout its fit with spam, ai has learned over what grabs our attention and what doesn't. As a result, AI today overwhelmingly creates digital experiences that are carefully optimized for Impressions, Reach, Engagement Rate, CPM, Click Through Rate and Page Views. What's missing is the surprise and novelty that can only come from self-discovery.
Spam Church is an antidote for the modern soul, providing interactions that subvert the spamminess we have all come to consume without really knowing it.