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."