Jun 21, 2018

Official surveillance? A brief look at the online media this morning leads to brand-new insight. Zeit online headlines “US secret services forced to stop snooping program“ (“US-Geheimdienste müssen Spähprogramm stoppen”), and die Welt knows: “NSA has to cease national data gathering.“ (“NSA muss nationale Datensammlung einstellen.”) But only because the Washington senate was unable to come to an agreement regarding the US wiretap law. So, the issue is far from being off the table.

A look across the Swiss border and into the NZZ leads us to the “Conflict area between security and freedom“. (“Spannungsfeld zwischen Sicherheit und Freiheit“). The Swiss parliament is concerned with the question how much official surveillance and limitation of personal freedom it takes for the citizens to be able to live securely.

Our politicians’ current (re-) actions with respect to this subject area – “Mrs. Merkel, did you lie? “Of course not!” (Frau Merkel, haben Sie gelogen? “Natürlich nicht!”) – (Stern) – I actually don’t even want to expose myself to this. Whatever Pofalla and/or the Chancellor knew or not …

Not only high-level politics are engaged with the subject of surveillance – in the truest sense of the word, it has long reached the streets– “Big brother above the freeway“ (Big Brother über der Autobahn) – (Süddeutsche Zeitung).

Now, after five nearly randomly picked publications I don’t want to turn a blind eye. Instead, I’d even advise you to think outside the media box and approach the subject area from a completely different point of view. For five more days, there is an opportunity to look at the whole thing from an artistic perspective. Until June 7, you can take the elevator of the A Tower of the Mainz Twin Towers at the train station to the 22nd floor to take an unimpaired, voyeuristic look not only onto the city and the people living in it. The structurally incomplete floor with its bare concrete walls is the perfect setting for the ambitioned project of the Essenheim Art Society #watch22.

22 artistic positions on the subjects of surveillance, data protection, inter-connectedness, big data and privacy – installations, photos, web projects, video arts, caricatures and media art – facilitate a completely different view of the issue.

Just one example is the video work “The Katalog (The Catalog)“ created by Chris Oakley in 2004:

An indispensable recommendation for all those who wish to look at the subjects of identity and security from a different point of view. It is definitely worth it. Secure your identity – Safe your personality!

Michael Sprengart