Advanced Seminar




Three keywords – surveillance, utopia/dystopia, interaction



Artwork Analysis: Analysis on ScareMail


100 images: 100images


Annotated bibliography and 5 cited images: Academic-Bibliography


Collage of 5 images and 5 more bibliography sources: Academic-Bibliogrphy-2


Revised artist statement: artist-statement

3/16 /2016

More bibliography: six-more-bibliography

One hour piece:


Notes from interview with previous professor/ writer at e-flux journal Tyler Coburn:

There is this semiotic anxiety of how we relate ourselves to the intangible cloud. Are we inside of it or outside of it? How dow we interpret our experience with the cloud? 

Algorithmically generated texts are not for you to read but for you to think.

“Knowledge asymmetry of the big data era”: the divide between those who generate data and those who instrumentalize it, as well as the infrastructural divide “shaped by ownership and control of the material resources for data storage and mining.”

When we all think it’s getting worse, it’s actually getting better in the long term. 

Analogies between Utopian literature and the situation right now. When those Utopian fictions were written, the social environment was also considered depressing. 

One hour piece on interview:

This piece of text is generated from the notes of the interview with Recurrent Neural Networks. It’s a very small data set for training, which is not a strict process, but interesting enough to see how algorithms interpret an interview.



Analysis on Dark Patterns: site-analysis




Notes form final presentation:

(Sorry it’s a bit messy but I’ll clean up for the real final presentation. It’s just too overwhelming to have two major finals due this week.)

CISA – Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

Commercial surveillance has merged into government surveillance.

Companies have no obligation to protect customer privacy.


failure of ideology of digital marketing – they know what consumers want – confirmation bias

even anonymous data cause harm – reidentification of your information

credit score is involved in data tracking

advertising driven by data instead of art and design (as used to be)

broken opt-out – bad interface or limited services if you opt out (also they might still be tracking you, just without showing you the ads)

you never need to do something to opt in, but you need to do a lot to opt out (look at the settings in ad blockers)

privacy badger – tracking protection

Ghostery – sell data back to publishers about their own sites

brave browser

Shine – block ads from your phone provider (absolutely no ad on a phone)


1.Privacy has a long history. It has been developed SLOWLY over the past 3000 years (physical boundaries), because in the early stages of civilization, people would choose money, convenience, etc, instead of privacy. (The Greeks and The Romans have public bedrooms and lots of activities are conducted in public spaces.)

2.Until the recent 150 years, privacy started to develop at a rapid pace (especially digitally, not only reflected by physical boundaries, but also digital devices and networks). Also, the rise of individualism has led to the recognition of privacy.

3. Mazzini case (the first modern attack on official secrecy), 1844. Mazzini thinks his mails are private, the government thinks they are secret. exiled in london, post office

4. Secrecy vs. privacy (emergence of individualism in the US), privacy comes after secrecy. Privacy is UNNATURAL.

5. 1890, two Boston lawyers, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis published “The Right to Privacy” (the first declaration of the right of privacy in the US, not much influence back then, but profound for nowadays) in Harvard Law Review, and advocated the legalization of privacy right.

Privacy is the function of history, the consequence of modernity, what should be public (government, political) vs. what should not be public (personal). “The press is overstepping in every direction of the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry.”

Since 2001 the United States government has increased its scope for such surveillance, and so this program was launched in 2007.

In 2003, Mark Klein claimed that AT&T have passed users’ activities and information to the government through a secret room in the company.

CISA – Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

Commercial surveillance has merged into government surveillance.

Companies have no obligation to protect customer privacy.

*privacy is the idea to construct and own your identity

representational to operational, a loop without human involved


(not exactly the script of my presentation, but some materials mentioned in my presentation and for the final paper.)

In the late 18th century, as various social issues: health, economics, urbanism, and particularly the rapidly accumulating population, become more complex during the time, the concept of social hygiene has been established and a new social system of control and power is in demand. Therefore, based on rigorous military structures, Bentham proposed the model of panopticon, an ideal mechanism for social power structure, instead of individually centralized power, to operate the society of a great amount of people. Later in the 20th century, Foucault interprets the panopticon, the physical architecture, as a metaphor of social structures and institutions.1 Panopticon has been the classic model to study surveillance ever since. However, in David Lyon’s 2006 book Theorizing Surveillance, he indicates that the 21st century surveillance theory should move beyond the panopticon, since digital technology has significantly changed the principles in surveillance, from one-way overseeing to multi-faceted and even interactive strategies.2 Companies has been collecting data of our online shopping activities, viewing preferences, search history, etc. Meanwhile, we expose our seemingly insignificant data that are valuable for the companies’ marketing teams. The more “Like” we click on social media, the more income those companies get. By clicking the buttons, we become free labors to help them promote their products, which are later sold back to us. The amount of personal data that we voluntarily submit online are more than adequate for corporations to construct the persona of us without tracking any physical bodies. Moreover, in the recent two decades, the effectiveness of corporate surveillance has drawn the attention of the government. The cooperation of government and corporate surveillance has accelerates the legalization of surveillance. Last year, CISA, or Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, has passed the Senate in October and signed into law in December. CISA is a federal law aiming to “improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and or other purposes”.

This process is not only the shift of surveillance schemes, but also the establishment of new power regimes. Under such circumstances, how has the definition of personal privacy changed from before? In 1844, when Italian politician and activist Giuseppe Mazzini was exiled in London, he believed that the British post office had been opening his mails for information of an insurrection in Italy. The Mazzini affair was considered “the first modern attack on official secrecy”.3 In this case, Mazzini reckons that his mails are his privacy, while the government is convinced that the mails are secrecy, the opposite of the transparency that our society has always asked for. The paradox of our expectations for both transparency and privacy will inevitably lead to some forms of compromise. The redefinition of privacy is one of them. Privacy does not exist until there is secrecy, and since then privacy has developed into a right to fight for. In our data-driven network, the commercial value of privacy has been exploited and therefore the role of privacy has shifted again.

Responding to the subject, in this project, privacy unmetaphorically becomes commodity, produced and consumed in a circle by the same audience. It is a reflection on the fact mentioned previously that companies collect our data in order to target products back to us. The online store and the vending machine play as each other’s counterpart, representing the flow of personal data usage across online and offline platforms. However, unlike real-world online experience in which we don’t have much control of where our data goes, this project empowers the users to gain over the control of their data and decide if they are willing to trade the data for any product of their interest or walk away to protect their privacy after reading the agreement of how these products are made.




Final paper is here!