The Alibaba and AliExpress search bars are the doors to the thousands items sold by factories and resellers to a worldwide customer network. Algorithms control when, how often, and in which order products appear on the viewer’s screen, from clothing and furniture to tools and gadgets. In a way, the search algorithms on different e-commerce platforms are like environmental pressures that influence the survival and adaptation of the organisms (like objects) that inhabit them. Without access to the code itself, which is fiercely protected as intellectual property to deter competitors and prevent …
See more

Exhibition Debut

Photos by Peter Cox and Mathilde Lemaire

Alibaba Bestsellers Paper Models

Sound Piece: Interview with "Ali"

Milan Design Week 2019 Photos

Photos by Nicole Marnati

FASHIONCLASH 2019 Runway

Photos by Laura Knipsael, make-up by Dayanara Janga + Diane Albertus, make-up products by Ellis Faas Cosmetics, hair by Kevin Murphy, modeling by Axel (FIC Model Mgmt)

Alibabaum Sortium: Buyer's Desire

Arvid&Marie

The Alibaba and AliExpress search bars are the doors to the thousands items sold by factories and resellers to a worldwide customer network. Algorithms control when, how often, and in which order products appear on the viewer’s screen, from clothing and furniture to tools and gadgets. In a way, the search algorithms on different e-commerce platforms are like environmental pressures that influence the survival and adaptation of the organisms (like objects) that inhabit them. Without access to the code itself, which is fiercely protected as intellectual property to deter competitors and prevent vendors from gaining an unfair advantage, the search algorithm can be studied only indirectly by testing its results.

Compared to Amazon or eBay, the search algorithm on Alibaba seems to put less priority on showing the most accurate results for the search query, thus freeing up space to display a variety of eye-catching and intriguing items to prolong visitor browsing. Yet these items are unusual in another sense: it is unclear if they are real products, potential prototypes, or simply illusions used to lure and entertain the online viewer. This collection of enigmatic products is materialised in paper, giving them a real (if flimsy) physical presence, while the metadata defining them as objects in the e-commerce platform is printed on the backs of the products.

Credits

Thanks to Mathilde Lemaire and voice actor Vincent Thornhill

Printed by Creative Playground, a collaborative project between Océ – A Canon Company and visual artist Peter van Ede

Additional Material

Read an interview with Arvid&Marie on The Global Habitat of Algorithms Link

Bio

Arvid&Marie is a duo of artists, experience designers and technological adventurers always aiming to discover new ways to stretch our world. Together Arvid Jense (NL, MSc at TU/e) and Marie Caye (FR, BA Design Academy Eindhoven) collaborate on their shared passion for art and technology. Through the use of interactive objects and performative story telling, Arvid&Marie use their collaborative effort to explore post-human theories, focusing their creative attention on practical cybernetics and autonomous machines. They believe that researching how humans express themselves, philosophically and technologically, can lead to long-lasting, positive change.

Contacts

arvidandmarie.com Link

@arvidjense Link

@mariecaye Link