Art in the Age of High Security

Panel Organizers:
David Stout

University of North Texas, Denton TX

Jenny Vogel

University of North Texas, Denton TX

Artists have often explored the potential of emerging technologies by subverting intended functions, stimulating new design developments in the process. Examples of such to be found in contemporary work are, more often than not, a direct or indirect result of security and defense research initiatives. In an environment where security concerns are accumulating into a nearly pervasive ambient narrative, artists play an important role by revealing, redefining and repurposing the mechanisms, relationships and unintended consequences engendered by these technologies. Whether examining the implications of anonymous web cam imagery, amplifying the anxiety surrounding bio-metric scanners or turning the first person shooter game back on itself, artists have critically engaged with the form, content and cultural context surrounding systems of control.

Each of the articles presented here were included in an “open form” session, which consisted of a series of performative and/or media-rich presentations. The session concluded with an energetic panel discussion that engaged both audience and panel members alike. We encouraged the participating authors to take an interdisciplinary approach, combining aspects of theory, practice and innovative pedagogy to examine the high security apparatus that has become increasingly embedded in our daily lives. We asked participants to consider such concepts as: repurposing technologies of surveillance; ubiquitous profiling; moving beyond simplistic ethical binaries of “good” and “bad” or utopian versus dystopian; (mis)uses or (re)uses of web portals; the real and the hyperreal; the unintended consequences of control systems; autonomous systems; weaponizing abstraction in digital art; voyeurism; (in)voluntary surveillance; and dead affect in an environment of “total” availability of information.