Are you unique on the internet? What’s left of you when you leave a web page? How entangled are you and your device? Is your browser in the artwork or is the artwork in your browser?

On April 22 2020, we opened a browser-based, free, open software art exhibition on browser fingerprinting . The exhibition was developed by the re|thread collective and its contents are continuously co-created by the re|thread digital environment as well as all the digital visitors.

The online exhibition can be visited here: https://fp.rethread.art/

In February 2020 we started planning for our first public exhibition in a public space, that would take place on April 8th in Stockholm. When covid-19 spread worldwide, all public spaces in Stockholm closed. Consequently, throughout the month of March we had to completely redesign the exhibition, with one clear idea in mind: we wanted to stay creative and still establish interactions with visitors to discuss software and art. So, we designed a completely virtual software exhibition that explores the essential software object for online life: a web browser.

The art of browser fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting is a digital technology that collects different characteristics about a browser (its brand, version, extensions, etc.) and stores these characteristics in a remote server. This fingerprint is very likely to be unique for the browser of a specific user. It can be used instead of cookies to track users on the web.

The visitors of the browser fingerprinting online exhibition explore the art pieces that shape and are being shaped by their online presence. They experience the fingerprint of their browser through three art/code -works. Each work explores a different medium to unveil this invisible data that emerges from software, hardware and our personal tastes and digital habits.

A visitor entering the exhibition would enter the main space and could choose between the three artworks. This main space was also a virtual place where all simultaneous visitors could experience the presence of each other in the form of an “emoji party”: each emoji, randomly assigned, represents a visitor.

Traces of Online Presence

This space lets visitors explore browser fingerprints, their differences and similarities, through sound. A fingerprint is represented by a tetrahedron floating in space. By moving closer, the visitors can zoom in on the sound of a particular device. They can listen to a group of devices by putting themselves at an equal distance from all of them.

By colliding with a device visitors are transported inside of it where its motif is accompanied by a visual representation.

Moving away from the bright middle point reveals all of the fingerprints of devices that were previously connected and still remembered by the server.

· .* . · ¨ .· constellations .¨ · *. ·:. ·

Each element from a browser fingerprint (screen size, language, fonts etc.) contributes to an element in the constellation. Visitors can compare their constellation to the others that have been collected to see how visually unique their fingerprint is.

FingerFonts

By installing different fonts on their device every user makes their browser different from the others. In this visualization we highlight the diversity of fonts that each visitor has installed.

Gift shop

When leaving the exhibition, the visitors had the opportunity to download a free gift consisting of the art works generated with their data, as well as all the code used to perform the software art works