Small World

http://surveillancecultures-smallworld.tumblr.com

video: 2:14 s

cotton, lemon juice, iron

Aseel AlYaqoub & Lara Nasser

2014

The nature of information is altered once its availability becomes universal. It began with written language, evolving to letters, the printing press, Morse code, fax machines, cellphones, and finally the InternetIn order to examine the dissonance between physical shrouding of information and digital revelations, we’ve married the two in a performative video. The narrative is contemporary and situated at the heart of concealment/exposure: Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo.

Taking a section of the chat log in which Manning leaked classified military details to Lamo, we hand-painted the chat onto a cloth in lemon juice. Following the structure of the conversation we took turns as each party ironing out the sentences one by one. Documented as a stop-motion video, with the time running parallel on the left, the chat between Lamo and Manning became more and more absurd when extracted slowly and painstakingly.

We chose a passage of the chat that was particularly human. It is all too easy to think of global news as abstraction; things we hear about that might stir some vague moral associations. But reading the chat logs was uncomfortable. They are just people; people who use emoticons, make typos, flirt, panic, and enjoy the anonymity provided by an alienated chat box. Having access to the word-by-word account, we were able to examine timings between sentences and make assumptions about the political climate conducive to the interaction, as well as the psychological states of the two at the time of exchange.