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.