Symposium Images of Surveillance: The Politics, Economics, and Aesthetics of Surveillance Societies

Images of Surveillance


Goethe-Institut New York

In the age of algorithms, surveillance has exceeded the boundaries of centralized government control to permeate every part of our lives and transform our collective sensorium. As vast communication networks spread over the world, intensive data gathering accelerates the abstraction of human life to feed the market's ever-expanding appetite. Mass surveillance, then, is not simply the mark of a rogue security state but underpins a much larger technological and economic complex set to radically reconfigure human interactions as the separation between organic and inorganic matter becomes ever more blurry.

As surveillance comes to saturate our life-worlds, we find ourselves in need or an expanded conceptual apparatus able to grasp it in its immense complexity. To this end, the Goethe-Institut New York is pleased to present Images of Surveillance: The Politics, Economics, and Aesthetics of Surveillance Societies, an interdisciplinary symposium bringing together artists, scholars, writers, activists, politicians, and others to reflect on surveillance beyond the dichotomies that have come to shape public discourse on the topic in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations. Resolutely multiform, Images of Surveillance will combine lectures, panel discussions, artist talks and presentations, as well as several performances and a video installation, to explore the topic in its various political, economic, and aesthetic dimensions and open new avenues to think about surveillance in the 21st century.

At the heart of Images of Surveillance is the recognition that surveillance as object of study is far too complex to be grasped from any single perspective and thus requires us to combine multiple perspectives into a fuller picture of what surveillance might be. Such an approach rejects both disciplinary boundaries and post-modern indeterminacy in favor of a concerted effort to create overlaps and conceptual chains across a wide variety of practices and discourses.

Jacob Appelbaum, Armen Avanessian, Roger Berkowitz, Big Art Group, Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, Ulf Buermeyer, Jimena Canales, Simon Critchley, Simon Denny, Diedrich Diederichsen, Bernard Harcourt, Dietmar Kammerer, Chris Kondek & Christiane Kühl, Korpys/Löffler, David Lyon, Uday Mehta, Evgeny Morozov, Trevor Paglen, Alessandra Renzi, Marcus Steinweg, Nils Zurawski, and others

Visit for more information about the program including a full schedule.

Images of Surveillance: The Politics, Economics, and Aesthetics of Surveillance Societies kicks off Sensitive Data, a long-term international project that aims to advance international, interdisciplinary, and theoretical discourse and artistic exploration on and around surveillance and data capitalism. The event series will continue through 2017 including a variety of public programs in New York, Munich, and Berlin. The Goethe-Institut’s partners are Germany’s Federal Agency for Civic Education, Münchner Kammerspiele, and Bard College, among others.