[ISEA2020] Paper: César Escudero Andaluz & Christa Sommerer — Data Pollution Devices: Artistic Strategies Against Behavior Capture


Keywords: Big Data, Surveillance Capitalism, Data-trackers, Critical Interfaces, Hacktivism.

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. [1] 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.

  • César Escudero Andaluz, Interface Cultures Department, University of Art and Design, Linz, Austria. César Escudero Andaluz is an artist and researcher focused on Human-Computer Interaction, interface criticism, digital culture and its social and political effects. His work spans image-making, sculpture, videogame, installation, networked culture, IoT, robotics, media archaeology. Since 2011 has been researching at the Kunstuniversität Linz in Interface Culture LAB. His artworks have been shown in international electronic-art events, museums, galleries and conferences including ARS ELECTRONICA CENTER (AT) /ZKM (DE) ISMAR2015 (JP) / WRO2015 (PL) / HANGAR. ORG (ES) / KIKK (BE) / AKSIOMA (SLO)/ ADAF (GR) / DRUGO MORE (CR) / CHRONUS ART CENTER (CHN).
  • Christa Sommerer is an internationally renowned media artist, researcher and pioneer of interactive art. Currently she is a professor and head of the department for Interface Cultures at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria. She was a Guest Professor at CAFA Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, a guest professor at Tsukuba University Empowerment Informatics Department and an Obel Guest professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. Together with Laurent Mignonneau she has created around 30 interactive artworks, for which they received numerous awards such the 2012 Wu Guanzhong Art and Science Innovation Prize (for “Escape”) awarded by Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the Golden Nica Prix Ars Electronica, the Ovation Award of the Interactive Media Festival Los Angeles, the Multi Media Award’95 of the Multimedia Association, Japan and the PRIZE 2008 – uni:invent Award by Ministry of Science and Research in Austria.