Thursday, May 14, 2015

The world’s first hologram protest held in Spain??... no

A protest group pulled off an undeniably futuristic stunt this weekend in Spain: they sent thousands of holograms parading past the lower house of the country’s parliament.
The augmented reality protest was just the latest in activist groups’ campaign against a series of “citizen security” bills, which received final passage in March. The new laws criminalize some forms of protest, such as gathering in front of Parliament. And among highly restrictive digital provisions, the law makes taking or distributing “unauthorized” photographs of police a crime punishable with a 30,000 euro fine. All in, the laws would create 45 new infractions, mostly centered on cracking down on dissent.
The new measures will go into effect July 1, if they survive national and European legal challenges.
No Somos Delito, which translates as We Are Not Crime, has been protesting what they call the country’s “gag law,” and in that context, the hologram protest is more than the stunt it might first appear. Under conditions in which people cannot put their bodies into the streets, the ghostly virtual projections serve both as protest and as a reminder of the protests that cannot occur.
The group even released a microsite— for Freedom)—which lays out the opposition’s case against the law, including a lengthy document laying out what the new laws would do.
It features an introductory video of a woman turning into a hologram. “Ultimately, if you are a person, you won’t be allowed to express yourself freely,” she says, referring to the new Spanish law. “You will only be able to do it if you are a hologram.”
A spokesman for the group drove home the point to the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo. “Our protest with holograms is an irony,” he said. “With the restrictions we’re suffering on our freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, the last option that will be left to us will be to protest through our holograms.”
I have not been able to find any evidence of previous hologram protests, unless you consider the Tupac hologram as an attempt to destroy all that is holy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Art for Spooks

Art for Spooks is an augmented book that takes a poetic angle to electronic surveillance. It combines texts and images from “leaked” NSA documents that evidence mundane concerns of NSA employees with grooming etiquette, gossip and surveillance at the work place; the development of encryption and psychological profiling tools modeled on alleged historical links between magicians and the military; and a delirious imaginary steeped in the world of modern folklore, populated as is with UFOs, popular media archetypes of evil and good, as well as (apparently) a taste for buffalo meat, high art, and orientalist and gendered themes. These materials are juxtaposed with graphics read through a tablet interface.

The act of reading generates randomized data in the forms of new images and texts which are concurrently uploaded to various social media platforms. The traces of this data are refracted through algorithmic manipulation.Art for Spooks suggests that the intense categorization and cataloguing of facts, phenonema, and life under current modes of surveillance, demands the invention of new ones that resist the stultifying effects of this kind of instrumentalization. With this in mind, the project concerns the creation of feedback meant to augment the paranoiac impulses of the spy (unburdened by such trivialities as plausibility or verification) through the fabrication of evidence for unprovable verification and the grafting of this evidence on the world.

Art for Spooks
Nicholas A. Knouf and Claudia Pederson
Handbound case-bound book, iPad, found images and text, custom software
320mm by 214mm

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

“Border Work: Surveillant Assemblages, Virtual Fences and Tactical Counter-media."

Download the PDF book for free!!

quote from the text-

"In another parodic border intervention the artist Marle`ne Ramı´rez-Cancio walked
the TBT into Tijuana, Mexico via a tunnel from the US side of the border.5 The
gesture was done as part of Political Equator 3, and helped to highlight the porosity
of the border evidenced in the hundreds of tunnels that have been found beneath
border cities like Tijuana, Nogales, AZ, and San Diego, CA.6

Other arts groups such as Mark Skwarek and John Craig Freeman of
ManifestAR created the augmented reality work ‘‘Border Memorial: Frontera de
los Muertos’’ which ‘‘uses software to superimpose computer generated 3D graphics
of traditional Mexican skeleton wood-carvings, or calaca, at the precise GPS
coordinates of recorded migrant deaths with an accurate 3d copy of the exact terrain
from the USGS,’’ allowing users to ‘‘remotely visualize the sites where human
remains have been recovered with a smart phone mobile device’’, including a version
that was overlayed into the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art in New York
City.7 This intervention brings to light the deaths on the border caused by
exclusionary policies and militarization of the border as a total secure zone, using
the hand-held smartphone and 3D-augmented reality of those with access to such
privileged mobile technologies, contrasting the haves and have-nots of network
capital while ‘‘hacking’’ the high-culture zone of the elite art museum."

At SXSW Interactive: Art, Activism, and Augmented Reality

At SXSW Interactive: Art, Activism, and Augmented Reality

Pool Hopping on the Island of the Bull
Artist/activist Patrick Lichty and I have a session at SXSW Interactive called “Art, Activism, and Augmented Reality.” Here’s the blurb from the SXSWi schedule:
One of the latest genres in New Media art is that of Augmented Reality, or the overlay of digital content onto physical reality through the use of smart phones and computer vision. Marshall McLuhan heralded artists as early adopters of new technology, and the emergence of AR as an art genre is no surprise. Numerous AR works have sought to explore the expressive and critical possibilities of the technology, and groups like Manifest.AR have used this medium as a means of creative dissent through their Occupy Wall Street AR intervention. With AR a burgeoning platform for New Media art investigation, we will discuss the potentials and limitations of the medium, the history and context of work being done today, and the tactical potentials of AR as political intervention.
Over the last two decades, thinking about technology and activism, I’ve followed the process of embedding the former in the latter, and the evolution of a straightforward kind of cyborg activism with standard functionality: using email and social media to rally the troops, using SMS for coordination on the ground, spreading grassroots memes through websites, etc. The impact of technology, and the automation of the activist, is clear enough; with lower costs of coordination, grassroots movements at least Have A Chance. However much of the deployment of technology has, as in other fields of endeavor, fallen into the funding groove – we’re using computer-mediated activist approaches to fill the coffers of various organizations, large and small, and truly disruptive uses are rare.
ar-financeThe Occupy movement brought a new crop of activists to the table with open minds and (often) open hearts, and a commitment to disrupt established political machinations that exploit rather than serve. Occupy worked, not as an activist project, but as a movement-building enterprise, and it worked partly by using art and design to burrow into the collective psyche. Some of the more fascinating approaches that emerged within Occupy leveraged augmented reality applications to make points that are better driven by art than by polemics. See the example on the right.
So Patrick, one of my colleagues at Reality Augmented Blog, and I will be talking how AR, activism and art can support social and political movements. If you’re at SXSW Interactive this year, try to drop by.

Locating Technology Augmented Reality: The Political Potential of Hybridized Space

Locating Technology

Augmented Reality: The Political Potential of Hybridized Space

By Genevieve QuickMay 14, 2014
Locating Technology considers technology and artworks in rather broad terms, such as: mechanical objects, analog and digital photography and video, and computer and web-based work. Through these types of works, writers explore the evolution of technology and its effects on artists’ processes, disciplinarity, and the larger social context of media creation, dispersal, access and interactivity.

Artists have long used approaches like elaborate and surreal narratives and phenomenological or physical experiences to explore the breadth of reality. At its most basic level, reality is a physical or social interaction with a string of consequences that extends beyond oneself. Artists, philosophers, scientists, and technologists continue to unravel reality as a complicated matrix of self and perception. The emerging technology of augmented reality (AR) creates hybridized spaces that merge virtual objects and narratives with the everyday space we inhabit. As AR develops solutions for the many real-world issues it faces (like application, ownership, access, adoption, and format), these issues affect AR’s artistic and political potential.
Using smartphones,1 AR participants scan a Quick Response (QR) code or AR symbol to interact with virtual objects that appear superimposed on the everyday world through their phone’s screen. Unlike two-dimensional images, AR objects are vector-based renderings with X,Y, and Z axes—the same type of data used in 3D printing. Moreover, artists and designers assign global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates to their objects, placing them in a meta-space that overlaps the tangible space users occupy. Users’ phones coordinate their GPS location with that of the AR object; as participants move through space, the virtual images on their smartphones shift in perspective. As its name suggests, AR attempts to augment, which on a rhetorical level is an improvement made through addition. In contrast, its technological cousin virtual reality (VR) attempts to simulate, which allows designers and artists unlimited freedom to create the context for their narrative or experience. While apps like Layar2suggest that AR is an additional level placed upon reality, it is actually a hybrid space that merges users’ real, physical embodied location with the virtual and visual experience.
...participants choose their role as either lunar revolutionaries or terrorists.
Like in a video game, Scott Kildall and Mark Skwarek’s Moon v Earth (2012) uses AR’s role-playing potential to explore differences and similarities between civil insurrection and self-defense. Included in the AR exhibition Moon Lust (2012)3 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago,4 Moon v Earth draws on the planetarium as a site for observation, wonder, and technology. The artwork’s narrative begins with the moon declaring its independence from the colonizing control of Earth. Kildall and Skwarek provide users with AR objects like, a home-built catapult for launching rocks at Earth, military spaceships, lunar architecture, and a tattered lunar independence flag; participants choose their role as either lunar revolutionaries or terrorists. The definition of a revolutionary or a terrorist is frequently a matter of who wins the war and writes its history.  In war, all interests—be they government militaries, independent guerrilla fighters, or religious militias—use notions of justice and liberty as justification for their actions and as rhetoric in recruiting support. Moon v Earthdraws on AR’s increasing integration into video games. A pejorative consideration of gaming as pure fantasy ignores the use of game-like simulations in military training and the remote piloting of weaponized and intelligence aircrafts. Underlying their fictional narrative, Kildall and Skwarek pose questions regarding alliance and historical perspective through the seemingly benign model of games.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else

Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else

Uncomfortable with surveillance cameras? "Identity replacement tech" in the form of the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic gives you a whole new face.
They're like Guy Fawkes masks that look like real people: A group wears the paper URME masks.URME Surveillance
If the world starts looking like a scene from "Matrix 3" where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio.
His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to "protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities."
Leo Selvaggio's face could be yours.URME Surveillance
"Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub," reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. "We don't believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn't have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public."
The 3D-printed resin mask, made from a 3D scan of Selvaggio's face and manufactured, renders his features and skin tone with surprising realism, though the eyes peeping out from the eye holes do lend a certain creepiness to the look.
Creepiness is, of course, part of the point here, as the interdisciplinary artist takes a his-face-in-everyone's-face approach to exploring the impact of an increasingly networked world on personal identity.
"When you wear these devices the cameras will track me instead of you and your actions in public space will be attributed as mine because it will be me the cameras see," the artist, who's working toward his MFA at Chicago's Columbia College, says on a recently launched Indiegogo page for the products. "All URME devices have been tested for facial recognition and each properly identifies the wearer of me on Facebook, which has some of the most sophisticated facial recognition software around."
It turns out some states have anti-mask laws. And Selvaggio -- whose earlier project You Are Me let others use his social-media profiles -- says he's considered the possibility that anyone wearing his face in public could engage in illegal activity.
"I would of course like to believe that others will use these devices responsibly and I can't be clearer that I do not condone criminal activity," he told Crave. "However it is possible, and I have weighed out the possibility that a crime may become associated with me. That being said, I have come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all."
URME's Indiegogo campaign has so far raised a little over $500 of its $1,000 goal, with 36 days left. Products include a $1 paper mask for those unable to afford the $200 prosthetic, as well as community development hacktivist kits of 12-24 paper masks meant to be worn by groups, presumably of protesters (or anyone into clone armies).
Open-source facial-encryption software that replaces faces in video with Selvaggio's is currently in the prototype stage and will most likely go through several iterations, Selvaggio says, before eventually becoming available as a free download from the URME website.
URME insists all products will be sold at cost, with no profit made and all proceeds going to sustain URME's efforts to keep surveillance in the public discourse.
"To be clear, I am not anti-surveillance," the artist told Crave. "What I am pushing for is increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space. When we are watched we are fundamentally changed. We perform rather than be."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ukraine Tracks Protesters Through Cellphones

Ukraine Tracks Protesters Through Cellphones

Ukrainian police officer looked through binoculars at opposition activists on Tuesday.

KIEV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cellphones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday, illustrating that techniques that can be used to target commercial information can serve law enforcement as well.
People near the fighting between riot police and protesters received a text message shortly after midnight saying “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
The phrasing echoed language in a new law making participation in a protest deemed violent a crime punishable by imprisonment. The law took effect on Tuesday.
This law and a package of other legislation passed by pro-government political parties in Parliament appeared modeled on rules in neighboring Russia, which has pioneered the coordination of legislation tightening rules on free speech and public assembly with technological capabilities.

In the civil unrest in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, though, the text message seemed to have little effect. Three hours after it was sent, the riot police pushed past barricades of burned buses on Hrushevskoho Street near Parliament but were nonetheless met by a crowd of protesters in ski masks and helmets carrying sticks and ready to fight.
The police fired plastic bullets from shotguns and threw stun grenades. They pressed as far as a cobblestone-throwing catapult built by protesters the day before and dismantled it before retreating again.
In another tactic apparently being ramped up on Tuesday to pressure protesters, young men in sweatshirts carrying sticks roamed side streets near the central square, beating protesters and breaking shop windows, including the window of a bar on Khreshchatyk, the main street.
The opposition leaders had said they believed these people to be soccer hooligans and unemployed men bused into the capital by the government to provide a proxy force of street muscle to intimidate protesters and darken the image of the movement by inciting violence.

Witnesses reported on social media that as this unfolded around 4 a.m., the police had all but disappeared from the streets in downtown Kiev, apart from the riot forces confronting protesters and guarding the Parliament building.
“Disorders should not be allowed to happen,” Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion and the leader of the political party Punch, wrote of the thugs on his Twitter account. “This is a plan of authorities to introduce a state of emergency.”
Early on Tuesday morning, opposition activists, wearing ski masks and wielding baseball bats, detained a dozen or so of these rival young men and marched them back to one of several buildings occupied by protesters.
Opposition activists questioned them in an exchange broadcast on an opposition-controlled television station. Several of the young men said they were promised about $25 to create disturbances near the square but did not explain clearly who had hired them.
An activist who has been prominent in the movement, Ihor Lutsenko, went missing Tuesday after unknown men forced him into a car in the parking lot of a hospital, according to a Facebook post by Mr. Lutsenko’s wife.
The protests began in November after President Viktor F. Yanukovich declined to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union, negotiating a financial aid deal with Russia instead. A movement that seemed to be fading was reinvigorated by opposition to new laws against public assembly passed last week.
Oksana Lyachynska contributed reporting.