Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 1: Welcome and introduction

Honor Harger, Tate Modern: Welcome and introduction

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 2: Eric Kluitenberg

Eric Kluitenberg, media theorist (Netherlands): Chair’s Introduction

Background Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Eric Kluitenberg, Netherlands Eric Kluitenberg is a writer, theorist and organiser of culture and technology events. He lives in Amsterdam and currently works for De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics, where in 2001 he organised The Society of Control – an event showcasing artists’ use of electronic observation technologies.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 3: Duncan Campbell

Duncan Campell, investigative journalist (UK): The scale and functioning of global electronic surveillance systems

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Scottish born Duncan Campbell is an investigative journalist, author, consultant and television producer specialising in privacy, civil liberties and secrecy issues. His best-known investigations have led to major legal clashes with successive British governments. In 1988, he revealed the existence of the ECHELON project, which has since 1997 become controversial throughout the world and especially in Europe. Online data: www.gn.apc.org/duncan. Duncan Campbell’s presentation will outline the scale and functioning of global electronic surveillance systems. In a slide lecture, he will show the real world visual iconography of surveillance, giving a graphic picture of the way in which surveillance is deployed. He will also address how the politics of privacy have undergone a major shift, since September 11. In a psychological environment where it has become difficult to argue for the protection of the personal sphere, intellectual and philosophical debate about the use of surveillance and the role of privacy, is in decline. Campbell will address the impact of the paucity of rigorous discourse and analysis of this area.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 4: Kate Rich

Kate Rich, artist (Australia/UK): Artist presentation

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Kate Rich is a video engineer for Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT). BIT develops data, tracking and visualisation devices for critical deployment. BIT’s projects often comment on the use of monitoring and data-tracking systems employed by large corporations and bureaucracies.

Kate Rich’s presentation will outline BIT projects such as Suicide Box, a vertical motion video recorder mounted below the Golden Gate bridge, and BIT Plane a miniature spy plane deployed over the aerial space of Silicon Valley. Rich will also refer to recent projects such as BANGBANG, a network of webcams which automatically sense gunfire or related explosions, and BIT Radio, an event-activated FM radio transmitter which can interrupt normal broadcast services with important information.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 5: Panel discussion 1

Panel discussion, with audience intervention: Kate Rich, Duncan Campbell, Chair: Eric Kluitenberg

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 6: Julia Scher

Julia Scher, artist (USA)

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Julia Scher is an artist, whose work focuses on the subjects surveillance and cybersphere. Julia Scher’s work attempts to unmask and deconstruct surveillance technology. She employs standard surveillance tools in site-specific installations and online projects, which expose the mechanisms of technological domination and examine our complicity with them. Scher is a founding member of The Thing, a net.community based in New York.

She has lectured at Harvard University, Princeton University and Rutgers University, and is presently engaged with the department of architecture at MIT in Boston, USA.

Julia Scher’s presentation will refer to works such as Security Sites Visit, where visitors were lead on tours of company’s security systems, and Predictive Engineering, a web project which analyses the ubiquity of surveillance and the manner in which power is asserted in the spaces we inhabit. Scher will also speculate on the changing face of surveillance, considering invisible forms of scrutiny and the role of privacy.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 7: Marko Peljhan

Marko Peljhan, artist (Slovenia); Artist presentation and remote sensing, and signals intelligence and UAVs

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Marko Peljhan is a media artist. Marko Peljhan’s projects put the tools of control in the hands of the scrutinised. Utilising the techniques and technology of military and corporate surveillance, Peljhan constructs pragmatic and utilitarian mechanisms, which enable the gaze to be turned back on the observers themselves.

He is also founder of the organisation, Projekt Atol, which runs Makrolab, an autonomous communications, research and living unit, and many other projects. Makrolab has been shown at documentaX in Kassel in 1997, on Rottnest Island-Wadjemup, Australia in 2000, and will be installed at Blair Atholl estate in the Scotish Highlands in the summer of 2002 and presented at the Tramway in Glasgow in August.

In this presentation, Peljhan will refer to projects such as Insular Technologies, which aims to establish an independent high frequency radio communication network, and Makrolab. His presentation will also address the technologies of remote sensing, and signals intelligence, referring to the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for surveillance purposes.

Surveillance and Control Symposium – Part 8: Panel discussion 2

Panel discussion, with audience intervention; Julia Scher, Marko Peljhan, Konrad Becker, Chair: Eric Kluitenberg

Surveillance and Control was a half-day Tate Modern conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

Surveillance and Control was a half day conference which considered widespread uses of electronic surveillance. It aimed to analyse how recent social and political developments have impacted on discourses around surveillance, and to address how various surveillance technologies have influenced new media art practice.

We are confronted by the troubling and expanding presence of surveillance in our daily life. Monitoring devices are used ever more to observe physical space, while electronic space has been proven to be likewise vulnerable to scrutiny, due to the operation of global data interception systems. The increasing ubiquity of surveillance has radically transformed the relation between public and private spheres, as well as the very nature of political and technological control. Surveillance has been a rich source of interest for artists for many years, and in recent times monitoring and tracking technologies have formed a major part of the arsenal of the contemporary artist. Exhibitions such as CTRL[SPACE] at the ZKM in Germany, reveal a growing interest in artistic surveillance tactics, drawing attention to new interpretations of the 18th century concept of the panopticon as an ideal mechanism of observation and control. Our concept of a continually observed society has moved on since Michel Foucault seized on the panopticon as a metaphor for the oppressive use of information in modern society. Though Foucault’s observation that control no longer requires physical domination over the body, but can be enacted through the constant possibility of observation, still holds true, the methods used to monitor individuals in space have changed considerably.

Surveillance and Control not only referred to the uses of conventional monitoring and tracking technologies, but also the operation of ‘dataveillance’ – the largely invisible practice of tracking and intercepting electronic data. The events of September 11 and their continuous re-enactment as media spectacle, have created a new psychological environment in which these issues can be considered. Since this time, new surveillance and communication interception powers for law enforcement agencies and intelligence authorities have been proposed and enacted in many countries. The war on terror has lead to what Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels once described as, the ‘optimum anxiety level’ which is needed to mobilise a larger audience for a certain common cause – in this case the rehabilitation of the authoritarian state and the expansion of the military and policing. In this context, it becomes more problematic to speak about privacy and threats to freedom of information.