Day 1, Session 1


Andrew Murphie: Arts & Media, University of NSW, Australia


Margaret Seymour: University of Sydney, Australia
Maciej Ozog: University of Lodz, Poland
George Legrady: Media Arts & Technology, University of California, United States
Marco Pinter: Media Arts & Technology, University of California, United States
Danny Bazo: Media Arts & Technology, University of California, United States



Margaret Seymour: Eye Spy: art, visibility and global war

The events of 9/11 signalled the start of a new phase for the American military-industrial complex. Weapons developed during the Cold War were ill suited to the ‘war on terror.’ Spying on the enemy shifted gear. Today intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are aided by a new range of high-tech equipment supplied by a dwindling number of powerful defence contractors. This paper looks at the role of surveillance in contemporary warfare. It examines the ways selected artists have responded to new forms of visibility, invisibility and power in an age when war is no longer the exception but the rule.

This research underpins my new creative work TRACKER, which consists of a series of moving objects that are linked to the websites of major defence contractors – Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. These companies manufacture the unmanned spy planes, or UAVs, used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Immediately following 9/11, increases to U.S. defence budgets saw the profits of these companies rise. Even today, U.S. military budgets are high by historical standards. While some argue that this is not the time to cut defence, others say that the current level of spending is unsustainable.

Following his re-election in 2012, Barack Obama faces continuing economic and policy challenges as he attempts to slow down the growing U.S. deficit. Controversial cuts to military spending are making arms manufacturers nervous. If the planned cuts outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act cannot be avoided, most U.S. military programs will be forced to implement a 9.4 per cent reduction.

TRACKER highlights tensions in the U.S. over proposed cuts to defence. It also raises questions about freedom of information versus privacy, war profiteering and the role of robots and surveillance in the ‘war on terror’, or what the Obama administration has renamed Overseas Contingency Operations.


Maciej Ozog: Live and survive in the hybrid space: resisting ubiquitous surveillance

The development of mobile, wireless information technologies that “weave themselves into fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”, as Mark Weiser put it in his vision of ubiquitous computing, has led to the transformation of urban space into the hybrid space where the invisible digital data intertwine and mingle with the material layer of the city. In the rhetoric of technological progress this process is recognized as a positive transformation, which is expressed in terms such as: sentient city, smart objects, intelligent environment. However, as noted by Lev Manovich “the hybrid space is also a monitored space”. Therefore, recognizing the positive potential of pervasive technologies, I suggest that they require a critical analysis showing the fact that they become the main technology of power and surveillance in the post-modern society of control (Deleuze). Such a critical approach is all the more necessary while we realize that these technologies are particularly vulnerable to the phenomenon of “function creep” and all forms of fraud related to the collection and processing of big data in a networked systems of the so-called surveillant assemblage. Issues of privacy, accountability and transparency of technological dispositive are particularly important in this context. While these problems are widely discussed in academic circles especially within the surveillance studies, I believe that artivist actions representing a form of sousveillance play an equally important role in the public debate on these issues. The strategy proposed in the 90s by Steve Mann is used and transformed nowadays by many artists as a form of resistance to technological surveillance. At the same time these actions can be perceived as a practical form of culture theory. In my paper I analyse various artistic tactics of resisting ubiquitous surveillance and diverse forms of artistic critical discourse on contemporary society of control.


George Legrady, Marco Pinter & Danny Bazo: Swarm Vision

Initiated by research in autonomous swarm robotic camera behavior, SwarmVision is an installation consisting of multiple Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras on rails positioned above spectators in an exhibition space, where each camera behaves autonomously based on programmed rules of computer vision. Each of the cameras are programmed to detect visual information of interest based on separate computer vision algorithms, and each negotiates with the other two, influencing what subject matter to study in a collective way.

The realtime visualizations of what the cameras see are positioned in spatially-reconstructed representation of their three-dimensional visual environment. Each camera’s images are placed at the distance of focus in the virtual space, generating emergent sculptural forms out of the overlaid flat images which are positioned in relation to each other within the virtual space. In the exhibition setting, visual segments of spectators who enter the viewing space populate the images leaving an imprint of their presence which are later erased as the images sequentially fade away.

Danny Bazo, doctoral student in the Media Arts & Technology program has a background in Visual Arts, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and an M.Sc. in Advanced Mechanical Engineering. With training in both the fine arts and engineering, Danny’s research is focused on robotics and signal processing. George Legrady is a digital interactive artist who directs the Experimental Visualization Lab at UCSB. Marco Pinter is an engineer currently pursuing a PhD in Media Arts & Technology with a focus on expanding his work in installations and performances which fuse physical kinetic form with live performance and visualizations.

Research funding; Robert W, Deutsch Foundation, National Science Foundation.