Algorithmic Explosions #1 – Audio Captchas


Algorithmic Explosions is a series of performative installations addressing psychophysical reactions to threatening environments within the horizon of contemporary fear politics. The project is based on a data perceptualization system designed to provide an aesthetic dimension to the probability of threats originating from a variety of sources. A number of self-made data-to-explosion converter modules allows a computer to ignite small explosive charges distributed across the presentation space.



In “Algorithmic Explosions #1 – Audio Captchas”,  explosions are triggered by a random number generator which is obtained by combining Apple’s speech recognition feature with audio captchas employed by Amazon for identity verification. Audio captchas are used to distinguish human users from robots online.



In this lesser known version of the common visual captcha, a series of numbers are spoken by a voice buried in sound effects intended to confuse automatic speech recognition systems. A custom piece of software was written to enable the audio captchas from Amazon to be tested against Apple’s speech recognition. When the speech recognition succeeds in cracking a captcha, the numbers obtained are used to trigger explosions in the presentation space.


Photos: Anke van den Berg