This Artist Turned Herself into a Corporation to Sell Her Data

Jennifer Lyn Morone is the founder, CEO, shareholder, and product of Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc.

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Feb 2 2015, 11:15pm

London-based artist Jennifer Lyn Morone isn't just a human, she's a corporation: Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc. This means instead of Silicon Valley companies controlling and selling her information, she's allowed to sell her data, including images and videos, health information, and personal financial information, for a price. Inspired by the US Supreme Court's ruling that "corporations are people," Morone's project intends to find out a corporate human being's true worth.

Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc. appeared as her corporate-human hybrid persona at the CAPTURE ALL exhibition at Transmediale, an annual technology and art festival held in Berlin. Morone's exhibition included a video of the artist explaining her “corporatization,” three State of Delaware documents proving it, a folder containing the terms and conditions of her data sales, and an iPad which visitors can use to peruse her data.

The iPad app that Morone and collaborators built updates personal data feeds regularly, which also act as portals into more elaborate data produced by her various devices. The statistics could be from images or even information gathered by a health monitoring device Morone wears in her clothes. For now, users can look at the data for free, but in the future Morone will withhold this information until users purchase it in a shop, which is currently under construction. Customers, for lack of a better word, will be able to purchase information either à la carte or in packages that fall under lifestyle, health, financial categories, and so on.

Morone, who told The Creators Project that her background is in sculpture and constructing “green gardens” in Berlin, first conceived of the project in 2013, and began building her corporation with a technology team in 2014. While it might appear that she took seriously a suggestion made by Jaron Lanier—author of “Who Owns the Future”—that users sell their data to corporations, Morone insists she was unaware of the book. And though she intends to control and sell her data, she is resigned to the fact that it's impossible to stop third-party apps from mining her information. In an interesting twist, however, this exposes these businesses to a copyright lawsuit, a possibility that Morone promises to explore.

“There is a lawyer involved with the project, and he's been working with people at MIT, and they had me working on new terms and agreements contracts,” Morone said. “Not the ones that show up when you say 'I agree', but this one goes back and forth and there are other services where you can highlight [things] and say, 'This is what I change.' So, it's very satirical or ironic to show the intellectual property part can just be all-consuming as well, but that is what my intention is.”

Morone said a constant challenge is the development of various data mining technologies, as is the reality that she must keep these devices on all the time. She also doesn't have a big team of lawyers and financial advisors staying on top of the business side of being a human corporation. This means Morone is limited in the amount of time she can dedicate to adapting to and researching new business regulations and financial policies.

Morone said the next Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc. exhibition will take place at Trinity College Dublin's Science Gallery, where the venue will offer gift cards, not unlike the ones offered by Apple and Google in stores, that visitors can use to purchase her personal data. Again, people will be able to buy data à la carte or in packages. Then, Morone will also take Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc. to the House of Electronic Arts in Basel, Switzerland.

Ultimately, Morone wants to offer a human-corporate business model through a built-in app for everyone. Called Database of ME, or DOME, the app would allow other human corporations to rest assured that their personal identities and datasets are “collected and stored” securely so that they too can “sell, lease, rent, exchange or invest” them for profit. As Morone explains in the above video, this is capitalism taken to the extreme.

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