Vertical Atlas: Island.eu explores ways of mapping new techno-political geographies, based on the tension between Europe's data protection against the borderless reality of cyberspace and the simultaneous datafication of the Mediterranean sea as an extended border of European sovereignty. With Benjamin Bratton, Victoria Ivanova and Marten Kaevats.
Since the early 2000s, a new sovereign model has started to surface from the supposedly free space of the Internet: cloud platforms such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA). Over the years, it has become clear that these platforms represent not only a new corporate model, but also a political one that claims sovereignty over cyber and material space through its infrastructure and algorithms. At the same time, modern states are beginning to morph into platforms themselves. In this context, the clash between the European Union and the American GAFA stack over European citizens’ data resulted in a showdown between these two logics of governance. The newly released GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the first product of this battle.
While in Brussels EU politicians hear Mark Zuckerberg’s defence on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, at the southern border of the Union the Mediterranean sea is turned in to one of the most surveilled areas in the world by the EU itself. Projects such as Frontex and Eurosur are implemented by the European Union to map and datafy the surface of the sea, extending the EU’s sovereignty through the machinic vision of monitoring satellites and the presence of the coastguard’s fleet. Whilst flows of migrants from Africa and West Asia are claimed in the form of data, the people themselves are not welcome. Safety and efficiency are the regulatory logic behind these policies, with biometric indexing at the borders already being discussed.
Benjamin Bratton is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Professor of Digital Design at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He is a sociologist, architecture and design theorist who is well known for combining philosophical and aesthetic research, organisation planning and strategy, and for his publications on the cultural consequences of digitalisation and globalisation.
Victoria Ivanova is a curator, researcher, and writer living in London. In 2010, working in the human rights field, she co-founded a cultural platform in Donetsk, Ukraine, which explored the intersection between activism, education and artistic research. Ivanova is one of the founding members of Real Flow—a research and development platform for socialising finance. Her practice is informed by systems analysis and her interest in infrastructures as mechanisms for shaping socio-economic and political realities. Current research interests include possibilities for new technological infrastructures to prototype post-Westphalian citizenship models. Ivanova is completing her PhD at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths.
Marten Kaevats is the National Digital Advisor in the Government Office of Estonia (or unofficially the Chief Innovation Officer of Estonia). He studies the impact of various scalable technologies on the spatial behaviour of individual people and communities, as he believes that the industrial revolution and the hyperlocal model of life will create reformatory changes to the spatial and social behaviour of people. Marten graduated from the governmental talent management programme in 2017. He is educated as an architect and city planner and lead the TAB 2015 “Self Driven City” curatorial team.
Public event and Research lab
Vertical Atlas:Island.eu is the first of a series of five events that attempt to develop a techno-political cartography, departing from the conceptual model laid out by Benjamin Bratton in The Stack.This series aims at investigating specific geozones where the entanglement of different sovereignties surface and different stacks clash. Each event consists of a public program in Het Nieuwe Instituut and a research lab for invited guests.
Vertical Atlas: Island.eu is developed and produced by Hivos Digital Earth and Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Before the Thursday Night you can grab a bite to eat with the speakers and staff of Het Nieuwe Instituut. At 18:00 Het Nieuwe Café will serve soup with bread or a quiche with salad. Dinner vouchers are available for € 7.50 up to a day before the particular Thursday Night event via the Tickets link.
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