This year the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection International Conference is working together with Constant Association for Art and Media to organise at Brussel’s Les Halles de Schaerbeek and la Maison des Arts the exhibition ‘Are You Being Served’. Artists coming from all over Europe have asked themselves the question: ‘Who does that server really serve?’. The Internet has become a platform for increasing numbers of service providers that control computer use and network and data traffic. Cloud computing service providers ought to ensure security and transparency when processing your data, which are stored in unknown locations and being ‘served’ back to you where and whenever you want – but do they? The art will be exhibited at CPDP and will address – in a humorous and inventive way – the stereotypical gender relations in IT environments, the protection of sensitive medical data, interceptions of network traffic and the commercial use of user generated data, etc. More information here and here.
Gary T. Marx, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at MIT, will be a visiting scholar at VUB’s LSTS and Research Group Crime and Society (CRiS) from 20th January to 2nd March 2014. Marx’s visit will be launched with the talk ‘Cops and Robbers, Nuts and Sluts: Five Decades as a Member of the Chattering Classes Trying to Do Good by Using Words‘. This kick off talk will offer an overview of his research and teaching career identifying themes that have continued to animate it based on experiences with mentors such as Erving Goffman, SM Lipset, Neil Smelser, Herbert Blumer, Ralph Turner, Donald Cressey, David Reisman, Herb Gans and Robert Merton at Berkeley, Harvard and MIT and 20 plus other schools in the U.S., Europe and Asia. This has involved work with governments and police agencies in particular, non-profits, commissions of inquiry, legislative and judicial institutions and the media. This seminar will take place on Thursday 30 January 2014 from 12:00-14:00 in Room 4C306. Please register before 24th January 2014: Martine.Schierl@vub.ac.be. Additional information can be found at Gary T. Marx’s personal website and through Wikipedia.
UNCAMP 2014, the NGO event on privacy & surveillance organised annually in conjunction with the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection International Conference, will take place on 21st January 2014. UNCAMP 2014 will bring together privacy advocates and members of NGOs to discuss privacy protection and surveillance in the digital age, and, more concretely, to develop strategies to address current challenges. Please check the agenda and how to register in the UNCAMP flyer (pdf).
As part of the public section of the CPDP Conference, Paul de Hert will take part in an interview on the future of privacy (in Dutch), organised by deBuren. The event will take place on Thursday 23 January 2014, at 7:30 pm. Venue: deBuren, Leopoldstraat 6, 1000 Brussels. Fee: 5 €. To register, plese go here.
The MUSIC & SURVEILLANCE series takes a walk through Bandcamp music platform in search of surveillance-related tracks, and uncovers a few interesting underground artists. Here they come, carefully collected and happily reported to the wider public.
‘Days Of Surveillance’ by Quiet Loner
A gentle protest song with a touching old-school flavour. It is not easy to say in the same sentence ‘DNA data’ and ‘piece of my heart’, so Quiet Loner deserves some respect at least for trying. Billy Bragg is supposedly a fan.
‘Surveillance’ by Mike Nicolai
More folk, now with a perfectly crafted song in the benevolently cynical spirit of the Violent Femmes. The author is Mike Nicolai, from Austin, and also singer of a band called The Bremen Riot.
‘Grotesque (Dear Mutual Surveillance Society)‘ by Boys Age
We move into indie territory with some floating lo-fi dream-pop, by the self-confessed false sons of Yo La Tengo. The lyrics are in Japanese or in strange English, but if they are as good as the title, they must be excellent.
‘Surveillance’ by Marshall Rendina
Some meta-avant-post-rock about the watchers who watch who is watching, by Marshall Rendina, who has probably listened a lot to David Grubbs, or to whoever he listens to.
‘Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’ by The United Sons of Toil
‘Surveillance’ by Controlled Storms
Surveillance can bring sadness. Philadelphia’s Controlled Storms sing that privacy is a luxury, but attempt to manage to make us smile nevertheless by singing it like a mix between Swell and The Beta Band.
‘Privacy (If You Were My Piano)’ by Elephant Micah
Joseph O’Connell, aka Elephant Micah, knows about sadness. A zero technology recording that refuses to say goodbye (to privacy).
Music selection and text by Gloria González Fuster.
The Guardian has published a piece titled ‘Romanian and Bulgarian migration stirs up ancient, dark parts of the brain: Populist politicians’ attempts to fan the flames of hatred rely on our hardwired suspicion of outsiders‘, written by LSTS researcher Paul Quinn. Read it here.
Albums titled ‘Surveillance’ are under the radar of our MUSIC & SURVEILLANCE series for obvious reasons. And If they offer a musically captivating vision of how does it feel to be permanently monitored and put in pieces in large databases, it is particularly urgent to know more about them.
Painted Caves is the new project of artist Evan Caminiti, based in San Francisco and relatively well known for his participation in the duo Barn Owl. ‘Surveillance’, his debut album under the Painted Caves moniker, offers seven tracks of dystopian landscapes, reminiscent of Basic Channel’s minimalism but with a tendency to get deeper, darker, and more focused on (American) urban life.
Using a modular synthesizer as his prime source, Caminiti creates indeed bleak textures nevertheless inhabited by a strange corporeality, as illustrated by ‘Flesh on tape’, ‘Stalker’ or ‘Never alone’. His music sounds like a slow motion film about a fast approaching cataclysm, and is thus a highly recommended soundtrack to think about the movements of any surveillant assemblage. The album has been published as a limited edition vinyl LP by French label Shelter Press. Text by Gloria González Fuster