Invisible audiences drive the success and failures of mediated social life. But before we rush to further network our private and public spaces we should consider this radical cultural shift. Some lessons can be learned from a recent ambiguous website and an old ambiguous book.
The privacy debate has been dominated by the cultural leaders of our time – software engineers. Therefore we should not be surprised that the tones of this debate have been often quite binary. Private or public, 0 or 1, all or nothing… these binary dichotomies make sense for packet switching and network protocols, but they are very different from the way we lead our social lives.
Privacy has become a selfish demand, and publicness—a public good. A public demanding the civil rights of information: “information wants to be free”. But this highly celebrated “free” information does not necessarily stand for “freedom”. Thinking that free information would necessarily lead to free societies is as misguided as the similar sentiment about free markets. Yes, technologically it is easier to set something public, “to set it free”, than to define a more limited context for it. But what does it mean for the way we’ve been communicating and contextualizing social relations since the dawn of civilization?
This time the Upgrade event will attempt to take on the dark desires beyond the basic art/privacy/surveillance discourse. Through three projects exercising different modes of surveillance we will discuss artists jealousy of authoritative powers and the desire to posses these powers themselves.
in(security) – 31Down’s Online Surveillance Drama
This is a live online theater piece that uses surveillance cameras as a playing space for actors and audience members as you become part of a security team policing the streets of New York.
devised and developed by: Ryan Holsopple and Mirit Tal. 31 Down
Little Feet Bureau International brings privatization to government surveillance. Four dot-matrix printers comb internet traffic. Upon finding words that threatens a client nation, the machines use the intercepted “evidence” to draft letters accusing and questioning the offenders. Obsessed with uncovering secrets, the final product of the system is a culture of paranoia. As such, the installation stands with one little foot planted in hysterical paranoia and conspiracy theory and the other in denial and the claim “it can’t happen to me”.
Little Feet are: David Nolen, Toshiaki Ozawa and Mushon Zer-Aviv. Little Feet Bureau International
Generative Social Networking�
Taking advantage of Bluetooth security flaws in cellphones, Generative Social Networking� unlocks the hidden potential of mobile contact lists to automatically connect people. GSN� is an artistic experiment in urban hacking instigated by Christian Croft and Andrew Schneider, a critical media partnership currently researching at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. Continue reading “Upgrade NY: We Passion Power and Control”
I just lately came across this cool website called Riya. Riya is an image search engine that doesn’t only search the data associated with the image, but actually searches the image content itself. Riya recognizes text in the images and through it’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and human faces through it’s impressive face recognition technology. You can train Riya to know that a specific face belongs to a specific name. While image storage and managing services such as Flickr require the user to tag the images with metadata, Riya is smart, it can learn, and it can put a name to a face.
For my ‘current events’ in privacy & information I have decided to give some examples of new-media artworks / experiments that refer to the subject. This is a choice of some project which will each give its own perspective and hopefully be informative as a ‘what’s being done in the field’ kind of overview. This is of-course a very limited overview, but hopefully you’ll find it useful and inspiring. Continue reading “Surveillance & Privacy in art”