Sniff, Scrape, Crawl…

Sniff, Scrape, Crawl…
Two Consecutive Panels Looking at Privacy and Surveillance
Presented at ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Arts)
Istanbul, Turkey 2011

Our society is one not of spectacle, but of surveillance…
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York, 1979), p. 217

We are living in a time of unprecedented surveillance, but unlike the ominous spectre of Orwell’s Big Brother, where power is clearly defined and always palpable, today’s methods of information gathering are much more subtle and woven into the fabric of our everyday life. Through the use of seemingly innocuous algorithms Amazon tells us which books we might like, Google tracks our queries to perfect more accurate results, and connects us to people with similar music tastes.

Immersed in social media, we commit to legally binding contracts by agreeing to ‘terms of use’. Having made the pact, we Twitter our subjectivities in less than 140 characters, contact our long lost friends on Facebook and mobile-upload our geotagged videos on youtube. Where once surveillance technologies belonged to governmental agencies and the military domain, the web has fostered a less optically driven and participatory means of both monitoring and monetizing our intimately lived experiences.

Bringing together artists, programmers and theorists, these interdisciplinary panels at ISEA looked at how surveillance and data-mining technologies shape and influence our lives and the consequences they have on our civil liberties. The aim was to map the complexities of ‘sharing’ and examine how our fundamental understanding of private life has changed, as public display has become more pervasive and normalized through social networks.

Sniff, Scrape, Crawl… was a larger research project composed of a series of workshops, debates, lectures and presentations hosted at the Piet Zwart Institute in the Master Media Design and Communication (Networked Media specialisation). It was initially launched in the beginning of 2011.

Chair: Renée Turner
Panelists: Seda Guerses, Nicolas Maleve, Amy Suo Wu, Birgit Bachler, Steve Rushton, Michelle Teran, and Aymeric Mansoux representing Naked on Pluto

Seda Guerses is a researcher working in the group COSIC/ESAT at the Department of Electrical Engineering in K. U. Leuven, Belgium. Her topics of interest include privacy technologies, participatory design, feminist critique of computer science, and online social networks. She has a keen interest in the subject of anonymity in technical as well as cultural contexts, the spectrum being anywhere between anonymous communications and anonymous folk songs. Beyond her academic work, she also collaborates with artistic initiatives including Constant vzw, Bootlab, De-center, ESC in Brussels, Graz and Berlin. You can find more information about her dwellings here:

Nicolas Maleve is an artist, software programmer and data activist developing multimedia projects and web applications for and with cultural organizations. His current research work is focused on cartography, information structures, metadata and the means to visually represent them. He lives and works in Barcelona and Brussels. Since 1998 Nicolas collaborates with Constant, a non-profit association, based and active in Brussels since 1997 in the fields of feminism, copyright alternatives and working through networks. Selection of works: *Copy.cult and the Original Si(g)n*, a project of investigation on the alternatives to author’s rights. *Yoogle!* an online game that allows users to play with the parameters of the Web 2.0 economy and the marketing of personal data.

Amy Suo Wu was born in China, raised in the suburbs of Sydney and currently resides in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam) with a BFA in Graphic Design and is presently furthering her studies at the Piet Zwart Institute, Master Media Design and Communication: Networked Media (Rotterdam). The nature of her practice explores the peripheries and overlapping edges where familiarity meets its unfamiliar counterpart. Her research reflects her interests and contemplations on the relationship between science, religion and spirituality, the interplay between history and fiction, and the nullifying contradictions between personal and collective truth.

Birgit Bachler is an Austrian new media artist living, working, and studying in Rotterdam (NL). She holds a BA in Information Design/Media & Interaction Design and is currently studying at the Piet Zwart Institute, Master Media Design and Communication: Networked Media (Rotterdam). She has a background in interactive, audiovisual media and programming, and her past research has focused on the influence of emergent media on our everyday lives and how technology influences and manipulates social behavior. Bachler’s recent work features a dating-like website built upon grocery shopping data, an alternative map of Rotterdam based on people’s window decorations and a location-based social network of audible content.

Steve Rushton is a founding member of Signal:Noise, an experimental cross-disciplinary research project that aims to explore the influence of cybernetics and information theory on contemporary cultural life by testing out its central idiom, ‘feedback’, through debates, artworks, publications, performances, events and exhibitions. He has been a writer and editor for a range of projects with artists such as Rod Dickinson and Thomson & Craighead. His publications include the series ‘How Media Masters Reality’ for First/Last Newspaper, Issues 1-6, Dexter Sinister (2009); ‘New Walden,’ HB2, Issue 1, CAC, Glasgow (2008); ‘Experience, Memory, Re-enactment’, Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam/Revolver, Frankfurt (with Anke Bangma and Florian Wuest) (2005); ‘The Milgram Re-enactment’, Revolver, Frankfurt (2003). He also teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute.

Michelle Teran, born in Canada, explores the interaction between media and social networks in urban environments. In her work she looks at different aspects of how urban space is defined, occupied and mediatized. She has a social and site-specific practice, which focuses mostly on the staging of urban interventions and performances, such as guided tours, discussions, walks and open-air projections as well as participatory installations and happenings. She is the winner of the Transmediale Award, the Turku2011 Grand Prix Award, the Vida 8.0 Award and Prix Ars Electronica honorary mention (2005, 2010) Currently she is within the post-graduate Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme where she is doing practice-based research at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts. She lives and works between Bergen and Berlin.
Naked on Pluto

Naked on Pluto is collaboratively developed by Dave Griffiths, Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk. Dave Griffiths (UK) was raised with an early education in weaving, bell ringing and 8bit computers, and is now dedicated to changing the world with free software, live animation and noise. He works as a self-employed artist/programmer, mainly working with the FoAM art laboratory and performs as part of slub – a livecoding band. Aymeric Mansoux (FR) is an artist, musician and media researcher. As co-founder of GOTO10 he initiated several projects such as the make art festival and the puredyne GNU/Linux distribution for media art and design. Currently he is co-supervisor of study at the networked media branch of the Media Design and Communication Master of the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam (NL), and a PhD student at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London. Marloes de Valk (NL) is an artist and writer. As part of the GOTO10 collective, from 2005 to 2010, she produced the chmod +x art festival, and co-produced make art 2007 and 2009. Her work consists of installations and software art. She exhibited work internationally and has led many workshops on Free/Libre/Open Source Software for artistic creation. She is editor of the Digital Artists’ Handbook (2009) and the publication FLOSS + Art (Mute Publishing, 2008).

Renee Turner is an American artist and writer living in the Netherlands. She received her MFA from the University of Arizona, was an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie and a researcher at Jan van Eyck Academie (NL). Since 1996 she has worked with Riek Sijbring and Femke Snelting under the collective name, De Geuzen: a foundation for multi-visual research. Their collaborative projects have showcased in Manifesta, Rhizome, Mute, and Internet Art (Thames & Hudson). In 2006 she was awarded a scholarship from the Institute of Creative Technology and received an MA in Creative Writing and New Media from De Montfort University. Whether writing digital narratives or working collaboratively, Turner’s work often engages with feminist issues and online media ecologies. Next to these activities she has taught fine art, design and theory at the Willem de Kooning Academy (NL), St. Joost Art Academy (NL) and the Bergen National Academy of the Arts. Currently she is the Director of the Piet Zwart Institute, and the Course Director of the Master Media Design and Communication: Networked Media specialisation (NL).

Sniff, Scrape, Crawl… was a cooperation between the Lectoraat: Communication in the Digital Age, and the Master Media Design and Communication (Networked Media specialization) at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy, Hogeschool Rotterdam.