Over the weekend, driving back from a lighthouse my family and I went to go sit by for a while, my Dad put on a podcast he’d wanted us to listen to; he’d said so over a warm lobster roll. The day had threatened to be colder, and the view was quite nice, I slept.
It was an NPR TED Radio Hour, and the speakers were all experts in Big Data. Recent technological advancements have exponentially increased the amount of information computers can store and analyze, and the implications of these advancements are as exciting as they are terrifying. Data that can help vastly improve medicine, as well as facilitate the potential for preemptive policing and gross invasion of privacy.
How we manage and wield this data is an essential question we face. Most of the talkers had pleasant enough voices, but my Dad has the habit of pausing to add commentary and I’m very much a rhythm person. Later I was thinking about this. I was also thinking about the Canvas. I remembered someone. Trevor Paglen had come up in conversation with someone I met at the Death Grips show this weekend, it was fun and my back hurts. Trevor Paglen uses his art as a platform to discuss the need for privacy and how much more crucial it is that we protect it in the digital age.
I researched Trevor, and I found one work of his that really fascinated me. His team and him constructed a specialized Wi-Fi router that essentially uses the museum in which it is housed as a connection to a private Tor network. I’m not well versed in the specifics of the technology, but the social implications of having museums choosing to display an Autonomy Cube as safe houses for privacy is powerful. Paglen has positioned the Art world's most powerful institutions in opposition to the ever encroaching hand of Big Data.
The Autonomy Cube is also beautiful. Read more about it here.