I gave an artist talk at the Athens Digital Arts Festival, where my work Safebook was on exhibition. Titled Hide (Nearly) Everything: Understanding Social Media Through Net Art Strategies of Resistance, the abstract was:
The world is learning more every day about how data collected by the dominant software platforms is not just used to “improve the lives of as many people as possible” (Google), or, to “give people the power to build communities” (Facebook), but is also producing broad negative effects for the cultural, social, and political future of humanity. In particular, the designs of these systems compel users to provide increasing amounts of personal information, enabling rapid expansion of corporate and state infrastructures for the purposes of surveillance, profiling, and profit. While outcries over resulting events such as Cambridge Analytica’s manipulations of the electorates in the US and UK have led to campaigns like #deletefacebook, most users remain unwilling to disconnect—especially in this new era of global pandemic. Given this, an alternative approach is the artist’s strategy of “software recomposition,” treating existing websites not as fixed spaces of consumption and interaction but instead as fluid spaces of manipulation and experimentation. This talk by the artist behind Safebook (part of ADAF) will present several of his projects that aim to not only investigate the cultural effects of software, but to also restore user agency over where, how, and when user data is (ab)used.
This talk won an award at the Festival.