I’m going to be talk­ing about self­ies and secu­ri­ty. But first I guess a bit of pre­vi­ous work. Over the sum­mer, I got a new lap­top and I decid­ed it’d be pret­ty fun­ny and cool if I tricked it out. So I changed all of my desk­top icons to that of Kanye West’s head, and I wrote a short tuto­r­i­al on how to do it your­self cuz, you know, it’s nice and it’s a good design con­sid­er­a­tion maybe for your lap­top. And it end­ed up blow­ing up. So all of these rap mag­a­zines start­ed blog­ging about it, and all these oth­er blogs. It was real­ly crazy, but the fact that I was able to get so much reach for some­thing I did in five min­utes was absolute­ly mind-blowing to me. So, you know, the use of celebri­ties in work.

But I feel like I’m start­ing to think about Kanye more­so in rela­tion to Kim Kardashian than Kanye in terms of music. It’s all pret­ty flu­id. Both are extreme­ly tal­ent­ed at what they do. Kanye’s an excel­lent musi­cian. And Kim is pret­ty good at being famous, which I like to think is a lot more dif­fi­cult than we all admit. You ded­i­cate hours, like, 5AM work­outs and two-hour make­up ses­sions in order to main­tain an appear­ance that will be heav­i­ly scru­ti­nized and torn apart by the media and the gen­er­al pub­lic. Your break­downs become cul­tur­al touch­stones.

And hon­est­ly if we’ve done any­thing to nor­mal­ize sur­veil­lance cul­ture, it’s through the way we treat our pub­lic fig­ures. That’s Bill Clinton’s cat. But I think Kim suc­ceeds in both her per­va­sive­ness in social media and also her bland­ness. In an inter­view with Paper mag­a­zine (the same mag­a­zine that she blew the Internet up with with her cov­er) she tells her inter­view­er that she’s obsessed with apps, but when pressed for details she sim­ply responds, I like all dif­fer­ent apps.” Which is great. I love that.

So I think I cap­i­tal­ized on the banal ubiq­ui­ty of Kim Kardashian in my project Kardashian Krypt, which is a stegano­graph­ic Chrome exten­sion. The project lets peo­ple send mes­sages which are then con­vert­ed to bina­ry and embed­ded in the pix­els of a ran­dom image of Kim, which then they are able to send to oth­ers who are then able to decode the mes­sage with the exten­sion as well. Thus they’re able to use her sta­tus as per­haps one of the most pub­lic per­sons in the world as a mode of secre­cy and covert com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

But I was sur­prised that a lot of the reac­tion sur­round­ing the project com­ment­ed on Kim’s neg­a­tive traits. Her van­i­ty, her obses­sion with mate­r­i­al wealth, her focus on fame, which is some­what rea­son­able giv­en what her job is. It is her job. To most peo­ple her exces­sive selfie-ness is a prob­lem, and that same opin­ion is expressed of young peo­ple, espe­cial­ly women, who also engage in self­ie cul­ture through medi­ums like Instagram and Snapchat. Kim and oth­er young women invol­un­tar­i­ly act as a mir­ror for what we per­ceive as soci­ety’s worst traits. In this way, to take a self­ie does not make you Narcissus, but Echo, the for­est nymph who fell in love with the beau­ti­ful youth but could only express that love by repeat­ing what­ev­er he said.

We use the norms and tools soci­ety gives us to express the feel­ings we have about our­selves and oth­ers. But we’re vul­ner­a­ble, and this is proven even more­so with events like The Snappening, where thou­sands of sup­pos­ed­ly pri­vate images, and ephemer­al images, were leaked, many of which were nudes of young women. I’m tired of these betray­als of the images sent to peo­ple that I and oth­er peo­ple trust being used against us. So this week I’m work­ing on a project ten­ta­tive­ly called Safe Selfie. It lets peo­ple inject a virus into an image of their choice, such as a sext, and so that when­ev­er some­body attempts to upload it to a serv­er it dis­rupts the upload and pre­vents the image from being dis­trib­uted to oth­er par­ties.

So that’s what I’m inter­est­ed in, and that’s what I’m up to this week. So maybe hit me up via Twitter or e‑mail or in per­son. Thank you.

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