Placeholder Eye
Art in the
Age of the
States of Surveillance

Recent events, such as the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its ongoing fallout, have served to remind us that even as the internet’s democratic promise endures, it remains simultaneously a site of misinformation and control. Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations revealed the staggering extent of the agency’s global surveillance program, fueling debates about government transparency, mass surveillance, and information privacy. Two years before Snowden’s disclosures, the Arab world experienced democratic revolutions in the spring of 2011 that were partially hinged on the various uses of social media platforms, along with other digital technologies that offered a means of collective activism to subvert state-operated media channels. These two episodes are unique and complex examples that reflect the dualistic nature of the internet, its utopian ideals and sometimes dystopian realities. The artworks in this section employ a variety of strategies to examine the wide-reaching effects of surveillance technologies while pointing to paths of resistance.