Web Residents Blow the Whistle

The web residents for the first cooperative call by Solitude & ZKM on the topic »Blowing the Whistle, Questioning Evidence« are selected! Read a statement by the curator Tatiana Bazzichelli.

Juror's Statement by Tatiana Bazzichelli — Mrz 21, 2017

»SkyLift: Low-Cost Geo-Location Spoofing Device« by Adam Harvey, Berlin/Germany

Akademie Schloss Solitude and ZKM | Center for Art and Media have awarded the first web residencies of their now cooperatively organized program. The call for proposals on the topic »Blowing the Whistle, Questioning Evidence« was curated and juried by Tatiana Bazzichelli, artistic director of the Disruption Network Lab, Berlin. Her jury statement gives further insight into the context of the call and the chosen projects. The web residents will work on their projects for four weeks (until April 20, 2017), posting articles regularly or reporting on the steps to their final piece. Projects will be shown on Schlosspost as well as on the ZKM website.

Jury Statement

The call for this round of Web Residencies »Blowing the Whistle – Questioning Evidence« refers to a relatively new field of artistic practices, where art is seen as a mean for producing evidence of misconduct and wrongdoing, as well as a terrain of meta reflection on whistleblowing, leaking, and surveillance. This call asks for artistic projects that offer an analysis on tactics and strategies for resistance, by questioning the meaning of evidence itself. In a political phase in which the boundaries between »truth« and »fake« are getting quite blurry, it is our responsibility to adopt a critical perspective while investigating these issues.

The entries of this call gave a quite diverse interpretation of the concept of evidence related to art, proposing a variety of artistic approaches, which interweaved formats, methods, and technologies. I appreciated the diversity of perspectives and points of view that demonstrated that the concept of evidence is understood differently from person to person, and influenced by individual, theoretical, geographical and practical backgrounds. The submissions demonstrated that even possibly one-dimensional concepts as »evidence« and »truth« can be questioned and become multiple, fluid, and a matter of interpretation. This aspect might appear problematic, especially in these times of »relative facts«, but it shows that it is in the realm of conceptual freedom, and even disruption, that new imaginations are still possible. The challenge is to understand how to give disruption a constructive approach, able to bring more awareness and consciousness in the artistic, political and technological field.

The four winners of this call took this challenge showing an in-depth combination of theoretical, artistic, and technological skills. By imagining artistic practice as a fieldwork of critical intervention, the artists proposed to disclose mechanisms of power and control underneath technological systems, political structures, and the tools that we use in our everyday life.

The selected proposals for this call work on topics around: exposing geofencing and obscure geolocation metadata (Adam Harvey), investigating data mining and private data retention on Facebook (Hang Do Thi Duc), revealing US tracking and online services embedded in websites representing US embargoed countries (Joana Moll), and finally, researching strategies used to manipulate public opinion and produce false information (Marloes de Valk).

The choice of the latter project, proposing the format of essay which might be in contradiction with the idea of »web based residency«, is motivated by the importance of supporting artistic research beyond the idea of the »technological«. To be able to produce a critical artistic work we need to recognize the preceding research, which itself is rarely compensated.

Furthermore, I propose to give an additional »Honorary Mention« to the Demystification Committee, as an input to develop their project further, recognizing the importance of working with a critical subject such as the Panama Papers, which after the initial journalistic hype has been quite forgotten in the public debate.

Finally, the ten shortlisted projects show a combination of interesting practices about how it is possible to deal with surveillance and corporative forms of control, as well as power structures, using forms ranging from music to theory, from poetry to graphic, from film to coding. I encourage all the artists, hackers, activists and critical thinkers to develop their ideas further, and to keep contributing, inspiring, and producing new critical practices and imaginations.

Tatiana Bazzichelli

Web Residencies

Adam Harvey (Berlin/Germany)
»SkyLift: Low-Cost Geo-Location Spoofing Device«

Adam Harvey, »SkyLift: Low-Cost Geo-Location Spoofing Device«, Web Residency Blowing the Whistle, 2017

»SkyLift: Low-Cost Geo-Location Spoofing Device« by Adam Harvey, Berlin/Germany

SkyLift is a small device that exploits the longstanding vulnerability (from 2009) in geo-location positioning using WiFi BSSIDs. Companies, including Google and Apple, rely on the use of this WiFi packets from home routers to return the estimated smartphone users position. Until now, this method has required the use of multiple routers and a complicated, expensive setup. SkyLift reintroduces the concept to a new audience using a low-cost, Arduino-compatible WiFi transceiver (ESP8266) to relocate the user to almost anywhere in the world. For the web residency, Adam Harvey will demonstrate how SkyLift can be easily built and used by activists to break geofencing and obscure geolocation metadata.

Hang Do Thi Duc (New York/USA)
»Me And My Facebook Data«

Hang Do Thi Duc, »Me And My Facebook Data«, Web Residency Blowing the Whistle, 2017

»Me And My Facebook Data« by Hang Do Thi Duc

For the Web Residency with Akademie Schloss Solitude and ZKM, Hang Do Thi Duc will research on the ever relevant question of »What does Facebook know about me?« Facebook users are able to download a copy of their historical data – one can scroll through all their own raw data. And, although she is skeptical that this actually contains everything, she believes it is a foundation for analysis – an aggregated view on all locations she logged into Facebook, where she uploaded photos, what photos she posts, what topics she discusses in her private messages, and when she gained the most friends. The main goal is to show the potential of this data paired with algorithms and provoke thinking and discussions about the real life impact if and when the results of predictions built from this data are used beyond just targeted advertising. The project will be realized as a website where users would be able to upload their data.

Joana Moll (Barcelona/Spain)
»Algorithms Allowed«

Joana Moll, »Algorithms Allowed«, Web Residency Blowing the Whistle, 2017

»Algorithms Allowed« by Joana Moll

Joana Moll’s proposal for the residency is based on researching and revealing the many US tracking and online services embedded in websites representing US embargoed countries, thereby exposing the ambiguous relationship between code, public policy, geopolitics, economics, and power in the age of algorithmic governance. The US is currently enforcing embargoes and sanctions against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Thus, all transactions carried out with these countries are prohibited and heavily sanctioned by the US government. Nevertheless, Google trackers and other online services such as Google Fonts and so on, owned by the American IT giant, have been found within several websites owned by countries under US embargo. Joana Moll recently found Google trackers within the official webpage of North Korea and tried to sell them Ebay as a .txt file. Even though the item was just an intangible piece of data – property of a US company – it was banned immediately by a Bot, another piece of code in charge of enforcing US policy. At this point the usually unacknowledged agency of code is undeniable.

Marloes de Valk (Hoorn/Netherlands)
»How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps«

Marloes de Valk, »How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps«, Web Residency Blowing the Whistle, 2017

»How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps« by Marloes de Valk, Netherlands

As part of the larger project What remains, a game for the 1986 Nintendo Entertainment System, How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps is an essay that maps existing research on strategies used to manipulate public opinion, focusing on events taking place in the eighties. Inspired by Manufacturing Consent (Herman & Chomsky, 1988), Merchants of Doubt (Oreskes & Conway, 2010) and The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (J.S. Dryzek, R. B. Norgaard, D. Schlosberg, Eds, 2011) – as well as other sources – Marloes de Valk will write about the methods used to spread false information and doubt in this pivotal decade, and also draw parallels to today’s technologically enhanced media landscape that does not cause, but greatly facilitates the spread of false information.

Tatiana Bazzichelli

Tatiana Bazzichelli is artistic director and curator of the Disruption Network Lab, a program of conference events at Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin. She was program curator at transmediale festival, where she developed the year-round initiative reSource transmedial culture berlin and curated several conference events, workshops and installations (2011–2014). She is currently visiting lecturer at the Fachhochschule Potsdam at the Department of Applied Culture. In 2012–2014 she was postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University of Lüneburg. She received a Ph.D. in Information and Media Studies (2011) at Aarhus University in Denmark. She wrote the books Networked Disruption (2013), Networking (2006), and co-edited Disrupting Business (2013). She curated exhibitions such as SAMIZDATA (2015), Networked Disruption (2015), HACK.Fem.EAST (2008), and Hack.it.art (2005). She has been based in Berlin since 2003. www.disruptionlab.org

Marloes de Valk

Marloes de Valk (NL) is a software artist and writer in the post-despair stage of coping with the threat of global warming and being spied on by the devices surrounding her. Surprised by the obsessive dedication with which we, even post-Snowden, share intimate details about ourselves to an often not too clearly defined group of others, astounded by the deafening noise we generate while socializing with the technology around us, she is looking to better understand why.

Adam Harvey

Adam Harvey is an artist and independent researcher based in Berlin. His work includes developing camouflage from face detection (CV Dazzle, 2010), anti-drone garments (Stealth Wear, 2013), and a faraday cage phone case (OFF Pocket, 2013). Harvey’s multidisciplinary approach to exploiting surveillance technologies has been widely noted in a wide range of publications from the New York Times to the Air Force Times.

Hang Do Thi Duc

Hang Do Thi Duc is a designer-artist-technologist, whose work has been driven by her deep interest for the influence of media with its instrumentation of technology and data on society, and the implications this could have on our life and our identity. She holds a BA in Journalism and Media and has received a MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design, New York City as a German Fulbright and DAAD (German Academic Exchange) scholar.

Joana Moll

Joana Moll is an artist and a researcher based in Barcelona & Berlin. Her work critically explores the way post-capitalist narratives affect the alphabetization of machines, humans, and ecosystems. Her main research topics include Internet materiality, surveillance, online tracking and interfaces. She has lectured, performed and exhibited her work extensively around the world. Furthermore she is the co-founder of the Critical Interface Politics Research Group at HANGAR and co-founder of The Institute for the Advancement of Popular Automatisms. She is currently a visiting lecturer at Potsdam Universität and Escola Superior d’Art de Vic [Barcelona]. http://www.janavirgin.com/

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