Sean Dockray

Since Google acquired YouTube, it has used over two million ten-second clips from videos uploaded by private individuals to develop a system for teaching artificial intelligence about the world. The material is organized into categories according to the same encyclopaedic principles used in natural science museums and referred to by Google as an ontology—a study of the nature of being. Sean Dockray’s installation guides the observer through the relationships between Google’s data gathering, our own video clips, and the future prospects for human rights in a world ruled by algorithms. He also challenges us to reflect on the possibility of creating and uploading videos that can influence the artificial intelligence’s thought patterns.

Sean Dockray (b.1977 in Boston, U.S.A.) is an artist and writes on the politics of technology. Dockray’s writing covers issues such as artificial intelligence, online education, university militarization, and traffic control. His Ph.D., Performing Algorithms: Automation and Accident, stages encounters with the algorithms driving post-industrial, big-data-based and automatic society. Dockray was a founding director of Telic Arts Exchange, Los Angeles and initiated the knowledge-sharing projects and The Public School. Dockray is currently a lecturer in Sculpture and Spatial Practice at Australian National University.


Learning from YouTube
Video of performative lecture, documentation from workshop, excerpts from Google’s YouTube dataset
Courtesy the artist

Adversarial Uploads
35 sec
Courtesy the artist

Custom YouTube player
145 min
Courtesy the artist


Gothenburg Museum of Natural History


Image: Sean Dockray, Installation view Learning from Youtube, 2018. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler