Bearing Witness:
Surveillance in the Drone Age

May 21 – June 7 2015
International Art Festival, Fort Mason
Tickets: free (donation requested)

Hanna Regev
Matt McKinley


Bearing Witness: Surveillance in the Drone Age is a comprehensive look at the wide reach and capabilities of technologies that trap us under a complex umbrella of surveillance technologies consisting of drones, phones and ubiquitous cameras and tether us together in unprecedented ways thanks to social media and the Internet at large. This exhibit is an opportunity to engage in conversation about the potential benefits of surveillance technology as well as the threats posed to fundamental rights of personal freedom and privacy.

The idea that as individuals we watch and, in turn, are watched on a local to a global scale within groups we self-select and by ‘eyes’ we will never see is the greatest source of angst within our current milieu of evolution toward a globally wired community. The prevalence of digital surveillance combined with ‘analog’ surveillance makes personal privacy a diminishing and prized commodity. The by-products of digital surveillance (pictures and video) immortalize both personal and public events and this documentation is readily accessible thanks to cheap memory and social pressure to network and share digitally. Easy access to information capturing devices and storage allows for unprecedented documentation of all types of data, innocuous to important, in massive quantity, which not only leaves behind the greatest footprint of a single generation’s existence, ever, but poses real threats to our identities, rights to privacy, and unique ways of experiencing life.

In “Bearing Witness” curators Hanna Regev and Matt McKinley want the public to reflect on:

Where do we draw a line on revealing personal information and can a balance between individual liberty and national security coexist?

How do the informational filters we chose (or are limited in choosing) affect our perception of the information we consume?

How does it feel and affect one’s life when even one’s most banal actions are subject to surveillance? Are we obligated to record and share our personal adventures to add to the greater canon of our time – just because we can?

And, how do we responsibly use the access to the massive data collected by government, corporations and other entities?

In “Bearing Witness” the participating artists are charged to visually interpret the current state of surveillance modalities and illuminate the prevalence of data collection. The tools at their disposal encompass traditional media ranging from painting, photography and video to performance pieces to digital arts incorporating recent technological advances. In turn, the artists collectively explore the proliferation and invasive practices of social media, document guests through face recognition and biometrics, track visitors using meta data, explore counter-surveillance as the basis for user-generated ephemeral works and create works based on the captivating headline news of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

Participating Artists:
Shay Arick, Alex Benedict (1030 Art Group), Tana Lehr (1030 Art Group), Yoni Mayeri (1030 Art Group), Teddy Milder (1030 Art Group), Jane Norling (1030 Art Group), Lanny Weingrod (1030 Art Group), Anna Kaminska (1030 Art Group) and Michel Bohbot, Matthew Silverberg (1030 Art Group), Lark Buckingham, artPaul Cartier, Irene Carvajal & Alex Shepard, Justin Hoover & Rachel Znerold, Phillip Hua, Philippe Jestin, Igor Josifov, Ali Kaaf, Pantea Karimi, Jonathon Keats, Scott Kildall, Mary Corey March & Christopher Saari, Kara Maria, Latifa Medjdoub, Wes Modes (Co-related Space), Lanier Sammons (Co-related Space), Brent Townshend (Co-related Space), Daniel Newman, Maya Smira, Melissa West, Weidong Yang (Kinetech), Daiana Lopes da Silva (Kinetech), Lisa Blatt, Tayeb Al Hafez, Antoine Kem, Trevor Paglen.

Hanna Regev, co-curator of “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance” is also the curator of “Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship,” exhibitions that were conceived and developed in the post 9/11 era to examine issues of privacy and freedom of expression.

Matt McKinley, co-curator, is probably guilty of over sharing his altered perception of the world through social media outlets. When not engaged in documenting his surroundings he is Vice Chair of the Board at ArtSpan, a specialist in curating exhibits in non-traditional venues and a champion for Bay Area artists.


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