Recent Projects

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The success of today’s booming biometrics industry resides in its promise to rapidly measure an objective, truthful, and core identity from the surface of a human body, often for a mixture of commercial, state, and military interests. Yet, feminist communications scholar Shoshana Amielle Magnet has described this neoliberal enterprise as producing “a cage of information,” a form of policing, surveillance, and structural violence that is ableist, classist, homophobic, racist, sexist, and transphobic.

Biometric machines often fail to recognize non-normative, minoritarian persons, which makes such people vulnerable to discrimination, violence, and criminalization: Asian women’s hands fail to be legible to fingerprint devices; eyes with cataracts hinder iris scans; dark skin continues to be undetectable; and non-normative formations of age, gender, and race frequently fail successful detection. These examples illustrate that the abstract, surface calculations biometrics performs on the body are gross, harmful reductions.

A visual motif in biometric facial recognition is the minimal, colorful diagrams that visualize over the face for authentication, verification, and tracking purposes. These diagrams are a kind of abstraction gone bad, a visualization of the reduction of the human to a standardized, normalized, ideological diagram. When these diagrams are extracted from the humans they cover over, they appear as harsh and sharp incongruous structures; they are, in fact, digital portraits of dehumanization.

Face Cages is a dramatization of the abstract violence of the biometric diagram. Diagrams are fabricated as three-dimensional metal objects, evoking a material resonance with handcuffs, prison bars, and torture devices used during slavery in the US and the Medieval period. The virtual biometric diagram, a supposedly perfect measuring and accounting of the face, once materialized as a physical object, transforms into a cage that does not easily fit the human head, that is extremely painful to wear. These cages exaggerate and perform the irreconcilability of the standardized, neoliberal biometric diagram with the materiality of the human face itself–and the violence that occurs when the two are forced to coincide.

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Facial Weaponization Suite protests against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making “collective masks” in community-based workshops that are modeled from the aggregated facial data of participants, resulting in amorphous masks that cannot be detected by biometric facial recognition technologies. The masks are used for public interventions and performances. One mask, the Fag Face Mask, generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition techniques. Another mask explores a tripartite conception of blackness, divided between biometric racism (the inability of biometric technologies to detect dark skin), the favoring of black in militant aesthetics, and black as that which informatically obfuscates. A third mask engages feminism’s relations to concealment and imperceptibility, taking recent veil legislation in France as a troubling site that turns visibility into an oppressive logic of control. These masks intersect with social movements’ use of masking as an opaque tool of collective transformation that refuses dominant forms of political representation.

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- Download the software script in Processing and the examples to make your own HD stencils

This project combines the parodying of celebrity culture and an innovative technique of graffiti art, using high resolution (HD) stencils. The stencils are digitally generated by a simple code, printed with laser cutters, to then be used with regular spray paint.

Tabloid Graffiti mocks popular gossip magazine covers, using derisive words for headlines and original photos from popular celebrity tabloids, such as People, Us Weekly, and OK!. Deploying this misappropriated content against itself, Tabloid Graffiti infiltrates the language that fuels celebrity-obsessed culture as a strategy for subverting its imagination. This undermines the relentless onslaught of celebrity media coverage, while introducing the idea of Celebrity Piracy in art and activism practices through exploiting its economy of popular names and faces.

High Definition Stencils - How It Works
This is a painting technique rendered with special stencils and spray paint, that begins with the use of custom-made software and laser cutters, using four channels as in subtractive color printing. Once printed, the stencils have the potential be used on a range of surfaces, from small pieces of paper to walls of buildings.

Each element of a given image begins as a PSD file so that it can be split into four channels, CMYK, for subtractive color printing. The individual channels are then saved as four JPGs, inverted in negative for each color channel of the image.

A custom-made software script in Processing transforms the JPGs into PDF vector files, ready to be used with the laser cutter. The script in Processing draws a vector grid of tiny holes, which never overlap, and their scale corresponds to the luminance of the pixels from the initial JPG. Through the settings in the script, it is also possible to determine the shape of of the pinholes (circle, triangle, square, star, etc.), regulate the resolution of the grid of the stencil by changing the density, and the maximum and minimum size of the pinholes. Once the PDF is printed through the laser cutter, the resulting stencil is ready to be sprayed. Four stencils will need to be cut from each initial JPG to recreate a full-color painting.

The size of the JPGs, in centimeters or inches, will be the actual final size of the PDFs and of the physical stencil; therefore, size should be taken into consideration for the laser cutter and for printing on various surfaces. The DPI of the source JPGs will only slightly affect the resolution of the stencil, but not the size; so, even low resolution JPGs (72 DPI) will produce a high quality HD stencil. These notes about the DPI should be considered taken from preliminary experiments.

With the four resulting stencils, each layer is applied in order of the abbreviation of the channels, spraying the stencils in order of color: first, Cyan; second Magenta; third, Yellow; and last, Black. White background surfaces yield the best results.

The stencils are keyed so that the layers and the offset align, resulting in a full-color image painted on any surface. This is facilitated through the template of the PDF with alignment holes cut by the laser cutter at the same position for each layer.

The script in Processing as well as the technique invented for this project are released in Open Source with Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

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This artwork questions the use of Video Visitation technology introduced in US prisons over the past several years. The term "White Torture" originally comes from Iran, where intellectuals, activists and detainees themselves use it to refer to the use of incommunicado solitary confinement. In the installation a reproduction of the Video Visitation device is installed inside a small, uncomfortable white booth. One by one, audience members come inside the booth to watch the videos and pick up the phone receiver to try to communicate through the device. The videos played on the screen are clips recorded from the previous person in the booth. These recordings are extremely overexposed, with the white color and white noise in the speakers, making the images opaque and the sounds very hard to understand. The device plays in the previously recorded short video for each subsequent visitor. Afterwards, it publishes the clips on a public website. By taking part in a disturbed encounter with themselves, the installation's participants ultimately become prisoners of the mediated human interpersonal communication. The audience's experience in first person is a symbolic representation of White Torture - social and sensory isolation through both the attempt to communicate with someone not present, visible or audible, and the state of being under camera surveillance.

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Wages For Facebook draws upon ideas from a 1970s feminist activist campaign as means to think through and challenge relationships of capitalism, class and affective labor at stake within social media today. The project has to date included website, public discussions & workshops and installations with manifestations online and in Chicago, New York, London, San Diego, San Francisco, Stockholm.

In the 70s Wages For Housework demanded that the state pay women for their unwaged housework and caregiving, as the market economy was built upon massive amounts of this unacknowledged work—and its laborers could be seen to constitute a huge working class entirely overlooked by existing Marxist or socialist critiques. Wages for Housework built upon discourse from the anticolonial movement in order to extend the analysis of unwaged labor from the factory to the home. Along these lines Wages For Facebook attempts to draw upon feminist discourse to extend the discussion of unwaged labor to new forms of value creation and exploitation online.

In 2012 Facebook reached more than 1 billion users and generated a revenue of 5.1 billion dollars. It is the first social-media website to be traded on the stock exchange wherein all content on its site is created by its users. Is what we do on Facebook work? How would we calculate our value? What could an alternate form of social media, based on an idea of the commons or a feminist praxis, look like?

As soon as it launched in January 2014 the website wagesforfacebook.com was graced with over 20,000 views (and counting) and rapidly and internationally debated on Facebook, Twitter and in the press—clearly touching a collective nerve and beginning a broader public conversation about worker's rights and the very nature of labor, as well as the politics of its refusal, in our digital age.

http://wagesforfacebook.com
http://www.thenation.com/blog/177887/should-facebook-pay-its-users#
http://www.ibtimes.com/wages-facebook-campaign-demands-pay-social-media-...
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/wages-for-facebook
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/02/the-labor-of-social-media/
http://falkvinge.net/2014/01/20/wages-for-facebook-maybe-its-not-so-crazy/
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/298-185/21477-time-for-a-digital...
http://www.artforum.com/diary/id=45531
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/02/work-it/
http://www.newcriticals.com/care-work-and-the-stakes-of-social-media-ref...

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Dream House is a generative 3D simulation of a “female” biomorphic architectural structure that dynamically builds up with consumer products over 7 hours. The accumulation of waste occurs in real time and is left up to chance, producingunique randomized animations. Two cameras capture the real time simulation from multiple angles, providing numerous experiences of the same scene. Thepiece is a monument to desire and waste caused by a system that manipulates desire for monetary means.

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Based on a nation-wide survey of artists and content creators, Fair Use(r) examines the challenges and legal implications facing artists who upload their work to hosting platforms such as YouTube, Blip, Tumblr and Soundcloud.

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Using NYC.gov wireless hotspot data, “WiFi Spotting” topographically visualizes Wi-Fi saturation in the metropolis. Areas with higher saturation of access points form the peaks of these mountainous terrains, thus lending physicality to the usually ephemeral in our constantly changing cityscape. “WiFi Spotting” highlights how our immediate environments are saturated by constant signals, and it aims to materialize the underlying social contracts hidden within our ubiquitous noise.

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CT-SWaM (Contemporary Temporary Sound Works And Music) is Eyebeam’s late night concert series curated by Eyebeam Alumni Daniel Neumann, happening intermittently in Eyebeam’s Main Space.

The series focusses on contemporary sound experiments, electro-acoustic multi-channel performance, social relations, improvisation, lowercase artistic presence, and topology – study of place/space with a spatial concept that goes beyond linear, geometrical understandings of space.

One goal of the series is to create unique situations, to stay irregular, to only apply methods that don’t appear as such – regularities should seem incidental and are then very welcome. The work is the focus and its presentation therefore has to be plastic, morphing, not static. Context provides security: if worked within and against it.

Mostly on Mondays, when galleries are Closed.

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The series is supported by the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University.

 

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"Dark Side of the Prism" is a Firefox Add-on that provides a soundtrack for our surveilled internet meanderings.

The public recently learned that the US National Security Agency's on-going internet surveillance program, Prism, collects data from users of major websites. Many of us already know that any data we might share-- not just Facebook posts, but our search and click pathways and histories-- could be compromised, but we do so anyway. We have normalized this ubiquitous surveillance.

"Dark Side of the Prism" uses Pink Floyd's aural prism (Dark Side of the Moon) as a playlist to the NSA's tracking efforts, serving as an auditory reminder of how our online activities are surveilled. What hypochondriac questions do you Google in the middle of the night; who do you cyberstalk? Consider those missives the lyrical component to our soundtrack.