NOTHING PERSONAL

2014-2015

In the past decade, the industry that satisfies governments’ demand for surveillance of mass communications has skyrocketed, and it is one of today's most rapidly burgeoning markets. Five years from now, the digital interception industry will earn five times the U.S. $251.5 million profit it generated in 2014.

 

Most surveillance technologies will be produced by American, European, and Israeli companies and sold to anonymous clients, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.


A variety of products on the market currently includes ready-to-use monitoring centres that are able to silently access, process, and store years of electronic communications of entire countries. Forged SSL certificates and HTTP aggregators allow a stand in between a server and a user, collecting passwords, and tracing movements across interconnected networks.


While most of the surveillance tools are undetectable by design, distributing companies have developed a collective corporate aesthetic. Uniform branding concepts of paranoia applied in promotional materials—brochures, videos, and websites—works to emphasize the importance of permanent protection from a perpetually elusive enemy, that presents ever more potent threats.


In each of the catalogues a detached technical jargon and sanitised clip-art is furbished by a stock photograph of an ubiquitous, whatever person next to a computer that serves as a permanent space-holder for an immortal perpetrator already apprehended and yet forever at large.


This aesthetic, when decoded, suggests the surveillance industry exists in a parallel and fundamentally different universe, yet at a closer inspection people working in it, the emails they sent, work spaces they design, seem to match the very image of the very enemy portrayed in the catalogues.

 

Exhibition Designed with lust.nl
Research Assistant: Paul Mutter