Data Pollution Devices: Artistic Strategies Against Behavior Capture


Session Title:

  • Politics of Sentience: Devices for Social Justice

Presentation Title:

  • Data Pollution Devices: Artistic Strategies Against Behavior Capture



  • Technically, the capture of “big data” is usually eclipsed by the complexity of the devices we operate: smart phones, tablets, laptops, Internet of Things (IoTs), drones, self-driven cars. All of them are equipped with passive sensors, cameras, GPS and tracking software that provide high-level readings of texts, digital images and videos. According to Philip E. Agre, (2003) these distributed computer systems have established a regime of total visibility through realtime human activities. Additionally, these devices are continuously and indiscriminately uploading users information to data-servers where it is managed by companies and data-trackers without authorisation.

    This paper explores the functional aspects of devices involved in the process of data-capture, including internal structures, processes, operations and system-to-system relationships of computer tracking, analysed from the artistic perspective, including fields such as Tactical Media, Software Studies and Critical Interface. Specifically, Christian Andersen and Søren Pold’s concept of “Metainterface” (2018) in which our computer is both omnipresent and invisible, Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann’s “Network of Control” (2016) and Shoshana Zuboff’s term, “Surveillance Capitalism” (2015) are used to describe how data analysis creates new power relationships hiding mechanisms of extraction, commodification, and control. The artists outcomes explored rely on the potential that artists have to arise questions, unmasking the invisibility of computational culture.