Friday, November 14, 2008

Social Networks, Privacy, and Self-Portraiture

Monday, November 10, 2008

China Channel Firefox Add-on

The China Channel Firefox add-on was developed by Aram Bartholl, Evan Roth and Tobias Leingruber. It allows users to browse the web as if in China--i.e., experience mainland China's internet censorship. The add-on's authors say:
Unlike many tools which enable Chinese people to freely surf the web via connections to computers outside of China, this plugin routes all internet traffic to computers on the inside of the Chinese firewall, allowing web surfers to experience an Internet identical to that of Chinese.


For the most part the Chinese web will feel a lot like home. You will, however, begin to notices differences if you start asking Google about sensitive issues (for example Tananmen Square protests, or Pro Tibetan issues).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Trevor Paglen's Spy Satallites

KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite (USA 129) near Scorpio, 2007

Lacrosse/Onyx IV Near Alfirk (USA 152), 2008

Wired Magazine has an article about photographer Trevor Paglen's show at the Berkeley Art Museum:

His shots of 189 secret spy satellites are the subject of a new exhibit -- despite the fact that, officially speaking, the satellites don't exist. The Other Night Sky, on display at the University of California at Berkeley Art Museum through September 14, is only a small selection from the 1,500 astrophotographs Paglen has taken thus far.


"What would it mean to find these secret moons in orbit around the earth in the same way that Galileo found these moons that shouldn't exist in orbit around Jupiter?" Paglen says.

Satellites are just the latest in Paglen's photography of supposedly nonexistent subjects. To date, he's snapped haunting images of various military sites in the Nevada deserts, "torture taxis" (private planes that whisk people off to secret prisons without judicial oversight) and uniform patches from various top-secret military programs.

[via Art Threat]

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Marisa Writes Her Disseratation

Marisa Olson, performance-techno-artist/new-media-critic/curator, is writing her PhD dissertation as an online performance in 31 acts. From the project's website:
Veterans of web-based autobiographical performance, Olson and "Coach Mandiberg" have teamed-up to get Marisa through her dissertation by framing it as an act of endurance. Every day for the month of September, Olson will spend all day writing while webcam shots and screencaps of her desktop are automatically uploaded to the net every 60 seconds. This gesture of transparency is a continuation of Olson's research into the role of sousveillance in "The Art of Protest in Network Culture."

[via Networked_Performance]

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Joe McKay's mapped vehicles

Joe McKay has created collaged images (ala David Hockney) of the the Google "steet view" van (top) and MapJack (a company that's emulating Google) from reflections of the vehicles in store windows.

Not familiar with Street View? Here a view of The New Museum being built. (Hint, click on the street arrows to move, click & drag to rotate).

View Larger Map

[via Rhizome]

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sousveillance Culture Conference

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Presentations on the theory & practice of surveillance and contemporary protest art, by graduate students in the ITP program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

The presenters' talks will be grouped into four panels, to be moderated by their Professor, Marisa Olson (Curator at Large, Rhizome), on topics ranging from voyeurism and play to intervention and networks of control. These panels will consist of both artist talks and critical essays, and audience members will be invited to give feedback on a few works in progress.

Venue: The Change You Want to See Gallery
84 Havemeyer @ Metropolitan, Brooklyn, NY 11211
L to Bedford or Lorimer, G to Metropolitan, J/M/Z to Marcy

Hours: 12-5 pm, Saturday, April 26, 2008


11:45 Open Seating
12:00 Welcome & Introduction, Marisa Olson

12:05-1:15 Voyeurism vs. Exhibitionism: Online and In the Streets
Panelists: Allistar Peters and Meng Li, Ana Maria Gutierrez, Heather Rasley

1:15-2:00 Watchful Intervening: From Scientologists to Spy Shops
Panelists: Amanda Bernsohn and Kacie Kinzer, Syed Salahuddin

2-3:30 Playtime: Games, Toys, and Entertainment
Panelists: Oscar Torres, Scott Hoffer, Shlomit Lehavi and Leah Gilliam

3:30-5 Looking at Control: From Candidate Self-Surveillance to
Wireless Subversion
Panelists: Michael Clemow and Tom Jenkins, Alberto Tafoya, Emery Martin

About the venue:
The Change You Want To See is the gallery and convergence stage run by
the activist arts collective Not An Alternative.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

camouflaged people

Desiree Palmen is a Dutch artist who is doing interesting work with camouflage (see here and here).

In 2002 Arno van Roosmalen wrote about her work (translated by Laurie Halsey Brown):
Concern about the increasing use of identity based electronic information systems and the frequent use of surveillance cameras is one of the impulses for Desiree Palmen to create her work, which uses camouflage, as it's main focus. In photo works, videos and site-specific actions, she explores the possibilities of letting people 'dissolve' into their surroundings or to let them disapaer against the background. The manipulation of clothing plays a crucial role. A shirt covers the body and then extends to cover the tabletop, confusing the contour of the body of the person wearing the shirt with the table itself. In another work, a suit is painted in such a way that when the model is in a very specific position, he/she disappears into the background. Palmen then takes pictures of these situations she creates from the ideal viewing perspective for het audience. In the actual situation, if the viewer moved one step away from this ideal view, then the function of the camouflage seizes to exist.

[via Boing-Boing]

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

artist watch list

The New York Times had an article on Sunday about Ramak Fazel, an artist who was placed on the FBI watch list. From the article:

[Fazel] set out on a photographic and philatelic odyssey from his mother’s home in Fort Wayne, Ind. His mission was to photograph each of the nation’s 50 state capitol buildings and dispatch a postcard from each city, using postage stamps from a childhood collection. Each postcard would be mailed to the next state on his journey, where he would pick it up, continuing until he had gone full circle back to Indiana.

But there was a problem. On a flight from Sacramento, Calif., to Honolulu, Mr. Fazel described his project to a fellow passenger. He later discovered that she had reported him as suspicious — perhaps to the pilot or the Transportation Security Administration — and taken a picture of him as he slept.

Maybe it was because he was vaguely foreign looking, he reasoned, and his photographic endeavor seemed menacing in a post-9/11 landscape. He also had a three-day growth of beard, he recalled. And, although Mr. Fazel grew up mostly in the United States and is an American citizen, there was his Iranian name.

And it wasn't just a problem boarding planes. While in Jackson, Mississippi, a loudspeaker order Fazel (by name) to come out of his van with his hands up. After being handcuffed, face down on the concrete he was allowed to get back in his van and go. In Atlanta Fazel was prevented from entering the capitol building. In Columbia, South Carolina he was questioned by police officers who somehow knew Fazel lived in Italy. At the Maryland capitol he was was asked to wait and then:

Suddenly, Mr. Fazel said, he was handcuffed and rushed through corridors into a police station, where a man he later learned was a member of the Maryland Joint Terrorism Task Force with the F.B.I. started speaking to him in Farsi.

As Mr. Fazel related it, the experience went as follows:

“I’m American,” Mr. Fazel said. “I speak English.”

Another officer asked, “Where are you really from?” Mr. Fazel produced his Indiana driver’s license.

“I can tell by looking at you that you’re not from Fort Wayne,” the officer replied.

After a four-hour encounter in which he was asked about a recent trip to Iran for an Italian design magazine and about who was financing his trip to state capitols, he was released without being charged.
Ramak Fazel's has an art show about this (called 49 State Capitols) that opens tonight at the Storefront for Art and Architecture and runs through March 8th.

Hasan Elahi, an artist and professor at Rutgers, has taken this sort of Kafka-esque experience and has turned it into an on-going performance. From a Wired Magazine article about him:

Elahi's site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you're on, it's hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he's doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.

The globe-hopping prof says his overexposed life began in 2002, when he stepped off a flight from the Netherlands and was detained at the Detroit airport. He says FBI agents later told him they'd been tipped off that he was hoarding explosives in a Florida storage unit; subsequent lie detector tests convinced them he wasn't their man. But with his frequent travel — Elahi logs more than 70,000 air miles a year exhibiting his art work and attending conferences — he figured it was only a matter of time before he got hauled in again. He might even be shipped off to Gitmo before anyone realized their mistake. The FBI agents had given him their phone number, so he decided to call before each trip; that way, they could alert the field offices. He hasn't been detained since.

So it dawned on him: If being candid about his flights could clear his name, why not be open about everything? "I've discovered that the best way to protect your privacy is to give it away," he says, grinning as he sips his venti Black Eye. Elahi relishes upending the received wisdom about surveillance. The government monitors your movements, but it gets things wrong. You can monitor yourself much more accurately. Plus, no ambitious agent is going to score a big intelligence triumph by snooping into your movements when there's a Web page broadcasting the Big Mac you ate four minutes ago in Boise, Idaho. "It's economics," he says. "I flood the market."

Labels: ,