128-Bit Essence: An Exploration of Auto-Representation

Date and Time: Monday & Tuesday, August 18 & 19, 8:30am–5:00pm Pacific Time

Location: The Edye, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center (on-site only)

Created and presented by:

Ian Dull, Partner, ReD Associates
Ariel Abonizio, Senior Consultant, ReD Associates

The installation poses a question both timeless in ethnography and newly urgent: How do we thoughtfully represent the cultures we observe – fairly, thoroughly, and holistically – while still providing an actionable model of reality?

Generative AI and synthetic data – even synthetic users – might shape how we think of representation altogether. This installation provokes reflection and conversation to consider the representational act of ethnography in the future.

Three grids of 128 human- and AI-generated artifacts (‘bits’) represent a person (‘the ethnographer’), place (‘Santa Monica’), and thing (‘the notebook’). The grid and standardized bit format place these human- and AI-generated representations – photographs, poems, records – side-by-side and without hierarchy, asking viewers to make sense of the hybrid landscape of artifacts soon to intermediate our lives, and to build (and critique) their own model of what is being represented.


Ian Dull is a lead in ReD’s global technology and mobility practices. With a background in anthropology and design, he helps companies in technology, mobility, and media develop confident strategies when faced with uncertain futures. He specializes in long-term innovation – applying rigorous data and vision to long-term bets – and the translation of insight into concrete products and experiences.

Ariel Abonizio is a Brazilian anthropologist, strategist, and artist based in New York City. As a Senior Consultant at ReD Associates, Ariel has conducted foundational research for clients in technology and media — particularly on projects involving emerging technology such as wearables and GenAI. Ariel holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Visual Culture from Bates College, with a focus on 2D and 3D design.