Surveilling the surveillers: About military RF communication surveillance and other activist art & technology projects

Presented at 33C3 (2016), Dec. 30, 2016, 5:15 p.m. (60 minutes)

In the last years, technology-savvy artists and technologists have taken over the art world with works addressing current societal and political issues. Their works are located at the intersection between art, technology and activism and are dealing with a variety of problems like free speech, freedom of movement, military and governmental power, corporate and governmental surveillance to name just a few. This talk will present relevant works in this field and will draw connections between critical art and regulatory power, warfare, surveillance, electronic waste, electronic self-defense and the re-appropriation of architectural and technological artifacts in militant ways. In the first part of this presentation, I will talk about critical technological art in general and its connections to (defensive) architecture, electronic and physical warfare and international power relations, with a special focus on surveillance, borders, and international contracts. In the latter part I am going to exemplify these concepts by showing important works in their fields, like artistic counter-survellance installations, passive reconnaissance walks through metropolitan cities, forensic analysis of HDDs discarded as electronic waste and so on. I will also show some of my personal works in this field, ranging from passive radio antenna stations towards universal modems to transform existing conductive architecture into a computer network. As a hybrid between computer scientist and media artist, I am creating works at the intersection of engineering, sculpture and formal aesthetics, which investigate power relations between citizens and technology, and often also the relations between citizens and the state. In my latest works, I am pondering how technology can be capable of re-democratizing public space, and how the issues surrounding the creation of private spaces through technological means can be artistically addressed. As a computer scientist, I have worked in high-tech environments and published scientific articles in the fields of artificial intelligence and digital culture.


  • mare
    I am a media artist and independent researcher living and working in Berlin with interest in space, perception, digitization, digital anthropology, power relations and minimal aesthetics. I collaborate with researchers, artists and galleries worldwide. Formally educated as a computer scientist at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, I became a student of media art of Michael Bielicky at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. Today I am a self-employed media artist and independent researcher living and working in Berlin with interest in space, perception, digitization phenomena, digital anthropology, power relations and minimalistic aesthetics. My work addresses issues such as international power networks, religion, changes in the human condition through technology, mass surveillance and electronic and physical warfare. I have created interactive installations, sculptures, video works and experimental computer games for festivals, museums and galleries worldwide, including the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, ZKM Museum of Media Art, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens Digital Art Festival, INCUBARTE Art Festival Valencia, ETDM Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design Tallinn and A MAZE. Festival Berlin. I give talks and workshops on minimalistic human-computer interaction and on how to exfiltrate data out of surveilled networks. My latest theoretical book, "Real Virtuality" is an edited anthology on theory and applications of virtual spaces.


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