In 2015, every second person on this planet will be connected to the internet. It has taken just twenty years to reach this point. Unsurprisingly, the internet, like any other territory, has been made subject to power play. Government agencies, global corporations and black hat hackers are all players in a big scramble to either control, or at least survey everything so it can be used to their advantage.
Who possesses the digital archives we’ve accumulated, who monitors us with what intent? Those who amass ‘Big Data’ have the power to not let us know we are being monitored, either by legal means or by obfuscation. As we proceed to inhabit digital environments, we tend to forget the internet exists as data that can be used for good and bad, and that data once shared is out of our hands for eternity. These privacy issues threaten representative democracies as much as they endanger the lives of those in more authoritarian regimes.
We also often don’t realize that the global network facilitates much more than your average website or email: it enables security cameras everywhere to transmit their surveillance data, phone conversations can be tapped, satellite images are gathered instantly, the stock market makes microsecond decisions that decide the fate of our economy, the ‘internet of things’ opens up our refrigerators and door locks to the world. Its scope is limitless.
The internet enables freedom of information. It can enrich our lives, be an outlet for our identity and creativity. It makes new developments possible, facilitates resistance against the status quo, makes public what others want hidden. And its users should be able to feel safe when it comes to their digital freedom, in the knowledge that their privacy is a basic human right. This implies safety from the peering eyes of powerful parties, as well as from our own peers on the web.
DATA RUSH investigates the tension between freedom and control in a virtual world. At the same time, on a photographic level it poses the challenge: if photography is a medium that tells us stories about the physical world we live in, how can it enlighten us about life in a virtual world, and the revolutions taking place in it?
Photographers, curators and editors are invited to submit relevant portfolios.
The final exhibition will have a multidisciplinary form, in which the main photography focus will be combined with other art forms and academic interventions, to stimulate a dialogue between art, science and the audience. The presentation will be part of the Noorderlicht International Photofestival, in September 2015 in Groningen.
Submissions and suggestions of photographers and curators are welcome, from every continent. These can be sent to curator Wim Melis, via FTP (click here for details) or by email to email@example.com, starting now through March 30, 2015. There are no submission fees.