My name is Golan Levin, I’m the direc­tor of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and I’m real­ly pleased to wel­come you to the first night of four in the Deep Lab Lecture Series. I’d like to open up with a bit of an expla­na­tion of what it is, this thing that you’re see­ing tonight and a lit­tle bit of back­sto­ry as to how this came togeth­er.

In mid-summer of 2013, Edward Snowden had just revealed his secrets to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras about NSA domes­tic sur­veil­lance, and obvi­ous­ly this was a real­ly big eye-opener for many of us, and I was think­ing about what it would mean for arts because a big top­ic of the arts for quite a long time has been sur­veil­lance that we sort of always knew was there but had nev­er had con­firmed. To sud­den­ly have it con­firmed altered the tex­ture and fab­ric of what it would mean to be mak­ing art about sur­veil­lance and for us to just gen­er­al­ly deal with sur­veil­lance in cul­ture and the ever-presence of it.

So an oppor­tu­ni­ty arose to apply for a grant to the Andy Warhol Foundation for artist res­i­den­cies and I along with Lorrie Cranor, Professor of Computer Science, con­ceived to imag­ine a series of artist res­i­den­cies here at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry con­cerned with art after Snowden. This would be quite in keep­ing as a col­lab­o­ra­tion between our­selves and Lorrie Cranor’s lab­o­ra­to­ry in usable secu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy here at CMU, to deal with things that were at the bor­der­line between art and tech­nol­o­gy that were atyp­i­cal, inter-institutional, and anti-disciplinary. So we applied and were very grate­ful to receive a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation to bring sev­er­al artists to Carnegie Mellon to col­lab­o­rate with our stu­dents and to col­lab­o­rate with each oth­er to deal with these new themes.

The first artists were Kyle McDonald and Lauren McCarthy, who were here and spoke in part of the School of Art lec­ture series in late August and ear­ly September. The third artists, who will be com­ing in late January and ear­ly February, are Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev who are expert hacker-artists. They’ll be lec­tur­ing, again as part of the School of Art lec­ture series, on January 27th and giv­ing a one-day work­shop on prac­ti­cal secu­ri­ty for the arts and cul­ture on Saturday, January 31st.

But in the mean­time we now have our sec­ond artist-in-residence and I con­ceived to invite Addie Wageknecht, who is an American and Austrian artist, who’s been deal­ing with issues of pri­va­cy and secu­ri­ty to say, What would you do?” and she pro­posed to get a dozen of the baddest-ass ladies that she knew togeth­er to brain­storm what it meant to make art nowa­days, and to deal with cul­ture. The exact way we spec­i­fied, their prompt was to deal with pri­va­cy, secu­ri­ty, sur­veil­lance, anonymi­ty, and Big Data aggre­ga­tion as they are prob­lema­tized in the arts, cul­ture, and soci­ety. So that’s what we have, essen­tial­ly a dozen real­ly tru­ly amaz­ing women who are all here. They are work­ing togeth­er this week, here in the Studio on a com­bi­na­tion of a book sprint/hackathon/dug­nad. They are a kind of charette or micro-conference or con­gress. They are work­ing togeth­er on code and text, man­i­festos, and visu­al­iza­tions, and just gen­er­al­ly steam is com­ing out of their ears as they’re col­lab­o­rat­ing and work­ing togeth­er. You’ll be hear­ing from these folks very short­ly.


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