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Disruptive Fridays #12: Global Surveillance in the Data Society


Disruptive Fridays #12: Global Surveillance in the Data Society




Disruption Network Lab




Sonia Kennebeck, Assia Boundaoui, Jer Thorp, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Mauro Mondello



Disruptive Fridays 12#: Global Surveillance in the Data Society is a preview of the conference DATA CITIES: Smart Technologies, Tracking & Human Rights – which Tatiana Bazzichelli is curating together with investigative journalist Mauro Mondello.

The conversation reflects on the discourse of surveillance and human rights during the coronavirus crisis, and reconnects it to another event that reshaped our society: 9/11. Disruption Network Lab decided to host it on 9/11 as a symbolic date, which signed unprecedented measures on the level of security and surveillance, compromising our privacy and freedom, and changing the way we perceived our society. To unfold the discussion we invited three speakers that have been dealing with the issues of data, tracking and human rights since long time.

– Sonia Kennebeck (Film Director, MY/DE/US)
– Assia Boundaoui (Journalist, Filmmaker, Artists, DZA/US)
– Jer Thorp (Artist, Writer and Teacher, CA/US).
Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli (Artistic Director, Disruption Network Lab, IT/DE), Mauro Mondello (Investigative Journalist, Filmmaker, IT).

Sonia Kennebeck introduces her last film UNITED STATES VS. REALITY WINNER, currently in post-production. The film is the story of 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner who disclosed a document about Russian election interference to the media and became the number one leak target of the Trump administration. In the framework of the discussion on post-9/11 surveillance and whistleblowing, she traces a line that connects her three films: National Bird (the story of three whistleblowers who blow the whistle on the US drone war), Enemies of the State (about the case of hacker Matt DeHart), and United States vs. Reality Winner.

Assia Boundaoui presents her work combining community storytelling, visual arts, and artificial intelligence. Her work, The Inverse Surveillance Project, is an AI program analysing hundreds of thousands of documents collated by the FBI on people of colour over the past 100 years, revealing historic patterns on tactics it used during operations. An Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago, she directed the film The Feeling of Being Watched, a documentary investigating a decade of FBI surveillance in Boundaoui’s Muslim-American community, which had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Jer Thorp, a data artist that designed (with Jake Barton) an algorithm and a software tool to aid in the placement of the names on the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan, discusses his data artistic practice. His 9/11 Memorial Project allowed to arrange the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks, respecting their familial, personal and business relationships with each other. He also collaborated with Mark Hansen, Ben Rubin, and Local Projects to create an interactive timeline of the attacks. Author of many data-inspired artworks, his forthcoming book Living in Data will be published in 2021.

The speakers discuss the issue of surveillance and human rights, reflecting on the transformation of our lives when security measures have been extensively implemented in the US and worldwide.

Photo Courtesy of the organisation 

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