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A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass Surveillance

A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass Surveillance is an exhibition that examines the many ways that we are watched, surveilled, datamined, and placed within an over-determined system of social control that relies on the multiplication of mechanisms of “capture”. Whether we are capturing ourselves in selfies, tagging our locations, using GPS supported apps for directions, or just passing through the expanded techniques associated with “societies of surveillance”, we must admit that we have entered a new age.

Resembling a hybrid vision of the imagined futures of Huxley and Orwell, it seems that we have been lulled into a kind of somatic state of passive acceptance to the growing infrastructures of both physical discipline and neo-panoptic power, i.e., the mechanisms associated with self-regulating techniques. As these networks continue to grow and reinforce the corporatization of mass incarceration, the ease-of-use associated with drone warfare and the militarization of policing practices, we find ourselves entering a new period of governance often referred to as the exercise of “Imperial Democracy”. 

The artists in this show investigate both the transitive and intransitive meanings of the word “record.” This includes addressing the greater weight that now is given to practices of prescriptive profiling, predictive analytics, facial recognition software and the ever-expanding digital dossiers of big data. Each artist gives us their own unique response to the New World that we all must Brave less we become not just subjects who routinely internalize the conscriptions of state power, but rather, who are pictured as a growing statistical multitude that has simply forgotten not to collude in our own coercion.


























Co-curated by Grant Vetter and Brian Jones at Fine Art complex 1101 and Durden + Ray as part of an exchange project that examined key issues around Societies of Suveillance.

Artists in the show: Julie Anand, Christine Cassano, Adrian Jenik, Denis Gilllingwater, Steve Hampton, Ben Jackel, Brian Thomas Jones, Nathaniel Lewis, Ty Pownall, Sean Noyce, Rembrandt Quiballo, Chris Vena, Jennifer Celio.

Artist roundtable with Micah White: Micah White is credited with being the co-creator, and the only American creator, of the original idea for the Occupy Wall Street protests. He is a former editor of Adbusters magazine, the anti-consumerism magazine that originally called for Occupy Wall Street. His book, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution was published by Knopf in Canada in 2016. He is the founder of Activist Graduate School, a website offering video courses aimed at activists.

Viewing of the film Stingray and rountable with filmaker Jerod MacDonald-Evoy: Jerod MacDonald-Evoy has worked for the Arizona Mirror and the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police.




























JAVA Magazine: Art, Ideas, Taste, Music, Fashion. By Justen Siyuan Waterhouse.

Phoenix New Times: From Surveillance to Psychotropics: 10 Best Art Exhibits in Metro Phoenix in May. By Lynn Trimble

Art and Cake: A Matter of Public Record at Durden + Ray. By Partick Quinn

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