The San Francisco International Arts Festival and curators Hanna Regev and Matt McKinley present:Bearing Witness: Surveillance In The Drone Age
May 21 – Jun 7, 2015 Fort Mason Center SF, Ca
Convene in the Fleet Room at 1pm for viewing and discussion of works in this location before heading to the Herbst Pavilion and Cowell Theater Atrium where the tour concludes with a performance of Latifa Medjdoub’s ‘Conversations With The Root’ in the Cowell Theater Lobby at 2pm; free event
Convene in the Fleet Room at 12pm for a special performance of Kinetech’s ‘Mirror #1, Time Bubble’ followed by a viewing and discussion of works in this location before heading to the Cowell Theater Lobby and Atrium. The tour concludes at 1pm with an encore performance of Igor Josifov’s ‘Wit-ness’ performance in the Herbst Pavilion; free even
“Bearing Witness: Surveillance in the Drone Age” is a comprehensive look at the wide reach and capabilities of technologies that trap us under a complex umbrella of surveillance technologies consisting of drones, phones and ubiquitous cameras and tether us together in unprecedented ways thanks to social media and the Internet at large. This exhibit is an opportunity to engage in conversation about the potential benefits of surveillance technology as well as the threats posed to fundamental rights of personal freedom and privacy.
The idea that as individuals we watch and, in turn, are watched on a local to a global scale within groups we self-select and by ‘eyes’ we will never see is the greatest source of angst within our current milieu of evolution toward a globally wired community. The prevalence of digital surveillance combined with ‘analog’ surveillance makes personal privacy a diminishing and prized commodity. The by-products of digital surveillance (pictures and video) immortalize both personal and public events and this documentation is readily accessible thanks to cheap memory and social pressure to network and share digitally. Easy access to information capturing devices and storage allows for unprecedented documentation of all types of data, innocuous to important, in massive quantity, which not only leaves behind the greatest footprint of a single generation’s existence, ever, but poses real threats to our identities, rights to privacy, and unique ways of experiencing life.
Shay Arick, Alex Benedict (1030 Art Group), Tana Lehr (1030 Art Group), Yoni Mayeri (1030 Art Group), Teddy Milder (1030 Art Group), Jane Norling (1030 Art Group), Lanny Weingrod (1030 Art Group), Anna Kaminska (1030 Art Group) and Michel Bohbot, Matthew Silverberg (1030 Art Group), Lark Buckingham, artPaul Cartier, Irene Carvajal & Alex Shepard, Justin Hoover & Rachel Znerold, Phillip Hua, Philippe Jestin, Igor Josifov, Ali Kaaf, Pantea Karimi, Jonathon Keats, Scott Kildall, Mary March & Christopher Saari, Kara Maria, Latifa Medjdoub, Wes Modes (Co-related Space), Lanier Sammons (Co-related Space), Brent Townshend (Co-related Space), Daniel Newman, Maya Smira, Melissa West, Weidong Yang (Kinetech), Daiana Lopes da Silva (Kinetech), Lisa Blatt, Tayeb Al Hafez, Antoine Kem, Trevor Paglen
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and artists Phillip Hua and 1030 Art Group members in conversation with curators Hanna Regev and Matt McKinley; free event
About the Festival:
The San Francisco International Arts Festival (www.sfiaf.org) celebrates the arts by bringing together a global community of artists and audiences. The organization presents innovative projects that are focused on increasing human awareness and understanding. SFIAF’s curatorial priorities include developing collaborative projects led by Bay Area artists working with their national and international peers and presenting world-class international artists who often do not have US representation and whose work is rarely (or never previously) seen in the United States.
The work for the next show I’m part of is on the topic of surveillance for Bearing Witness: Surveillance in the Drone Age curated by Hanna Regev and Matt McKinley as part of the SF Art Festival at Fort Mason. For the first time my husband Chris Saari and I are doing a truly collaborative piece. He’s helped me with tech before, but this is the first time we’ve both been in on the concept from the very beginning and it’s exciting. Over the last year or two articles about advances in tech have prompted him to say “hey, we should make art about this”, leading to conversations about what that art might look like. When I was invited to a show on the topic it seemed a perfect time to realize some of those ideas.
For this project we will be tracking the movements of people throughout the gallery space using the signals from their cell phones. Department stores and malls are already buying and using systems to do just that. Unlike them we aren’t saving any IDs or using any of the data in any way other than to display it in the gallery. Your local mall has no compunctions about that though. It was interesting to both of us because often what people are terrified of (drones, the NSA, Google Glass, etc.) isn’t what is the greatest threat to their privacy- it’s what we are complicit it. We voluntarily carry tracking devices around with us all day every day (cell phones) that broadcast our information. We post our pictures and private lives on social media. We use email and search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) that make a business model out of selling our data. It seemed the thing to draw attention to.
I also brought back a project I had put on the back burner while I did a series of larger installation works for shows and commissions. It involves creating a portrait of people using the targeted ads that appear throughout the day on their computer. These ads are the result of collected data on what we do online: searches, purchases, what sites we visit, and even the content of our emails and social media posts. Some of them are simply targeted at the audience of specific websites rather than being as personally tailored, but they are all targeted. Together they present an image of what those corporations think we want and who they think we are based on our online activity.
I’m excited about the show, and it’s part of a much larger collective SF Arts Festival, so if you are in the area, please come by. The opening is next Thursday for the festival as a whole, with a special event for the Bearing Witness show on the 27th.
Tomorrow night is the opening reception for Living With Endangered Languages in the Information Age! We are also having a panel discussion centering around the role of technology in Languages and Art on the 15th. Please join us!
The “Living With Endangered Languages in the Information Age” show at Root Division is opening on the 7th! I will have my new mixed media sound installation Cultural Fabric Breathes Still there waiting for you.
Much thanks to curator Hanna Regev, the participants (who chose to remain anonymous), to technical collaborator Dan Garcia.
I am still collecting languages for my Endangered Languages Project!
What it involves: if you speak an endangered language or dialect (list here) I would want to speak with you for 15-30 minutes over the phone, skype, google hangouts or facetime. You would not need to turn on the video part if it is over the computer. Basically I would just record audio of the following:
-a word or phrase that you feel doesn’t quite translate and which may say something about the culture
-your translation of that word or phrase
-a personal thought or story about it.
Other information I’d collect is where you grew up and where you live now, and what sort of fabric you would suggest goes with the language. For example: the Irish speaker suggested a brown tweed, the Lowland Scots suggested a Douglas Tartan wool, and the Estonian speaker suggested a natural linen embroidered in a traditional pattern (which I am embroidering). Otherwise no information about you (name, etc.) would be included unless you would like me to include your name in a “thanks to” list.
I am making a sort of cabinet where the fabrics will be displayed. When a person approaches, one of the languages will start to play and the corresponding fabric with move with air as if the breath of the speaker is moving it. It will mimic a Natural History display in certain ways… except with an emphasis on these things still being very much alive.
If you would like to participate, please email me at email@example.com
This piece is part of a an art exhibition on Endangered Languages curated by Hanna Regev at Root Division in San Francisco which is potentially traveling afterwards. Previous post here.
My sketches are always like this- rough, scribbly, and somehow they work the best for me- loose enough for me to imagine different details. But until the other even the loosest sketch of the physical part of my Endangered Languages piece weren’t jelling enough for any sketch to make me happy.
I had been hitting a major wall with the work and it was keeping me up at night for weeks as I tossed image after image and idea after idea in my head. Two days ago I had a great conversation with a friend that helped me break through. He has helped me document my work in video and photography but more importantly he is always a great person to brainstorm with (there are two pieces we’ve thought out together that I think need to be made as collaborative works).
The thing is the process is so often in the mind. I visualize and discard so much before I start making these days. Now without having physically built anything, I suddenly have a pretty clear picture of the finished piece. Now that it’s there I can sketch and mock up and I can start building like a maniac. I’m going to build a mock-up for size and relationship to the body before I build the main object. I want to get the height and tilt angle that way. It should recall natural history museum displays… but with some unexpected twists in action.
Another thing hidden (besides things in my brain) is the thoughts and concepts behind the work. You will notice I don’t tend to explain my concepts here. I have them, usually intensely thought out (what some people would consider over-thought out), but I want the concept to be experienced and seen and heard, not just explained before people see the actual work. I want them to walk up and discover it, not come in with a thesis on it. There is also a sort of delicacy in certain stages of creation, where if you explain too much (especially to the wrong people at the wrong time) it leeches the life out of it in your mind, or it kills your drive to make it.
At the same time, I love revealing the physical process. I like to show the beauty and madness of the actual objects-in-progress and the physical experience of making the thing rather than explain everything up front.
You’ll notice the Academy of Sciences sticker in my sketchbook. I went with my daughter after school to get a look at the display cases, both old and new. When I go into a museums or place with the intent to take notes I always put the ticket or sticker or write the place at the top. Sometimes the page is otherwise blank.