An exhibition at BOZAR in Brussels explores the intersection between photography and surveillance. Employing a dynamic range of approaches—from documentary to conceptual practice, from appropriation to street art—these 10 artists provide a satellite-to-street view of the ways in which surveillance culture blurs the boundaries between the private and public realm

Exploitation Forensics is a collection of maps and documents created as a result of investigations conducted in the last few years by the SHARE Lab. The maps will help visitors explore the invisible layers of contemporary technological black boxes and their fractal supply chains, exposing various forms of hidden labour and the exploitation of material resources and data

Creditworthy highlights the leading role that commercial surveillance has played—ahead of state surveillance systems—in monitoring the economic lives of Americans. Lauer charts how credit reporting grew from an industry that relied on personal knowledge of consumers to one that employs sophisticated algorithms to determine a person’s trustworthiness

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The objects, books, artifacts, gadgets and artworks offer a contemplation on autonomy as a disappearing modus operandi of political action, while workshops, discussions and demos focus on the devices we use every day: How do they work? What individual data traces do they capture? Where do these go, and what kind of control can one regain?

Annie Machon is an intelligence expert and author who worked for 6 years as an intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK domestic counter-intelligence and security agency. Together with her ex-partner, David Shayler, she resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes

Simon Farid is a visual artist interested in the relationship between administrative identity and the body it purports to codify and represent. In practice, this means that the artist is ‘squatting’ identities that have been constructed by other people for surveillance, marketing or institutional purposes and then discarded.

He notoriously ‘inhabited’ the identity of an undercover police officer and the one of a politician who moonlighted as a web marketing guru

Two of the presentations i enjoyed covered the representation of intelligence agencies in films and tv fiction, another was about the influence that new forms of surveillance are having on the rise of home-grown (‘home’ being the U.S.A., the symposium was organised by the Institute of North American Studies) white extremist groups. And a fourth talk commented on the delusory quest to control State information

With his public intervention Overexposed, artist Paolo Cirio disseminates unauthorized pictures of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials throughout major cities. Cirio obtained snapshots of NSA, CIA, and FBI officers through social media hacks. Then, using his HD Stencils graffiti technique, he spray-paints high-resolution reproductions of the misappropriated photos onto public walls

The practice of targeted killing by drones raises many questions: “How many civilians have been killed as collateral damage during these strikes?” “And even if we’re talking about militants, how can the killings be justified when there has been judicial supervision? “If these drones can reach their targets anywhere, then how is the battlefield defined?” “Right now, only 3 countries use drones for targeted killings: the U.S., Israel and the UK. Where will this stop?” “And if these targeted killings are illegal, why does Europe keep silent?”

Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud have installed WLAN / WiFi mesh network with can antennas on the roofs of the Academy of Arts and the Swiss Embassy, both located in the heart of “NSA’s Secret Spy Hub in Berlin.” The particularity of the network is that it is open and at the disposal of passersby to communicate anonymously and even send messages to operatives of the NSA and GCHQ intelligence who might lurk inside the nearby British Embassy and Embassy of the United States

The exhibition zooms in on the shock and awe of drone warfare, and addresses the ethical and legal ambiguity of drones, mass surveillance and war at a distance. It presents the work of contemporary artists who are critiquing the way in which military technology and networks can obscure, conceal and distance us from the political and social reality of warfare today

The work of Mishka Henner might evoke the one of Edward Burtynsky, Trevor Paglen, Omer Fast, Michael Wolf and Jon Rafman. Yet, comparing his work to the one of some of the artists i admire the most is pointless. Henner is his own man slash artist. He uses contemporary technology to give a new twist on artistic appropriation and redefines the role of the photographer, the meaning of the photography medium and the representation of the landscape. Without ever using a photo camera

Much of Treister’s recent work maps ways that human intelligence and military intelligence currently interact and work on each other. She explores how in a world increasingly determined by pervasive technologies and the demands of the military and security arms of government and state, new relations between the observer and the observed have been established and new subjectivities formed

Formerly secret, highly official photographs show officers and employees putting on professional uniforms, gluing on fake beards, or signaling to each other with their hands. Today, the sight of them is almost ridiculous, although the laughter sticks in the viewer’s throat. This publication can be regarded as a visual processing of German history and an examination of current surveillance issues, yet it is extremely amusing at the same time

As one surfs the net, data packets are sent from the user’s computer to the target server. The data packets go on a journey hopping from server to server potentially crossing multiple countries until the packets reach the desired website. In each of the countries that are passed different laws and practices can apply to the data, influencing whether or not authorities can inspect, store or modify that data

Conducted and presented as a scientific experiment TNM challenges the participants to consider the outrageous proposition of algorithmic prejudice. The responses range from fear and outrage to laughter and ridicule, and finally to the alarming realization that we are set on a path towards wide systemic prejudice ironically initiated by its victim, Turing

I’m sure many of you have heard of James Bridle. Either because he coined and formulated the concept of New Aesthetic. Or because you’re interested in drone warfare. A few months ago, Bridle launched Dronestagram which uses Google Earth images and data collected by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to document systematically the locations of deadly U.S. drone strikes. Bridle has also been traveling from Istanbul to Brighton to Washington DC to paint crime scene-style outlines of UAVs

The Reposition Matrix is an investigation into the military-industrial production and trading networks of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also commonly referred to as Drones). The workshop aims to reterritorialise the drone as a physical, industrially-produced technology of war, and consequently explore how this affects our understanding of the covert drone campaigns in the Middle East

Under the Shadow of the Drone is a life-size depiction of a Reaper drone, one of a number of such weapons in service with US and UK forces. The Reaper is used for surveillance and bombing missions, in the declared war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the illegal wars of assassination taking place in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Such wars are made possible by the invisibility of drones to most people

One of the projects that you can see right now in Brighton is a body of work, by Mariele Neudecker, that makes visitors reflect upon (and reluctantly admire) the use of technologies in contemporary warfare. The artist documented with seducing photo portraits and patient rubbings a series of weapons of mass destruction that were developed at the height of the Cold War

Today i’m talking to Tom Keene, an artist whose work investigates technological objects and attempts to understand their agency and how they act as mechanisms of control within contemporary society. Our conversation will focus on topics such as the social impact of the Viterbi algorithm (with a previous explanation on what the algorithm does exactly) and wireless infrastructures, the loss of public space in cities, in particular in London and in the area surrounding the Olympic sites.

Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, has just opened an exhibition with a very promising title. Architecture of Fear explores how feelings of fear pervade daily life in the contemporary media society.

I’m going to visit it on Thursday but in the meantime i thought i’d ask one of the participating artists, Jill Magid, to tell us about the work she is showing at Z33 and more generally about her experience with impersonal power structures (police, intelligence agencies, security systems, etc.) which, whether they contribute to it or fight it, are part of this ‘architecture of fear.’