Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]
NSA 4 KIDZ!
What better way to foster widespread subservience toward mass surveillance and the erosion of privacy than through… games?
Meet CyberTwins™ Cyndi™ and Cy™ as they create a CyberSafeSpace for you and your kids to learn all there is to know about digital encryption and secure data programming! As you follow them on a fun-filled adventure, you will meet other friendly characters such as Crypto Cat® and Decipher Dog® — all part of the CryptoKids® gang.
Get to know a few of the diverse, interspecies members (and their respective mottos) below:
Raised in a native Navajo reservation, Arizona-born “Information Assurance Analyst” Crypto Cat came into her own as a cryptographer by teaching indigenous Navajo “code words” to her elementary school classmates. At the tender age of 15, however, Crypto Cat has not yet realized the abominable historical relationship between the US and the Navajo people. Given her enthusiasm for the indigenous, maybe she will grow up to be the next Snowden…
Crypto Cat’s best friend, Decipher Dog (or “D-dog for short”), has a natural knack for — you guessed it, deciphering! His precocious talent for cryptanalysis and subsequent role as a “Signals Intelligence Analyst” developed out of breaking Crypto Cat’s Navajo codes. As their friendship evolved, they sought out other crypto-cool peers to form what would finally be known as the CryptoKids — including Rosetta Stone, Slate, and others. Son of a police officer and network engineer at NSA, it’s ‘safe’ to say that D-Dawg’s destiny was predetermined since day one…
Then there’s Sargeant Sam. The most explicitly militaristic of the gang, he occupies a place simultaneously outside of and central to the crypto-clique. Already a member of the US military prior to his meeting CryptoCat and Decipher Dog (he was their high school math teacher — what?), he seals the CryptoKids’ fate by standing as the pillar of authority, the authoritarian patriarch to which the unwitting crypto-buddies submit and psychologically internalize in their daily lives. A convenient metaphor, incidentally, for the relationship between the NSA and the world today.
By mobilizing fun, the NSA is working to shape the future attitude of today’s kids toward mass surveillance. The political value of games and cartoons as a tool for indoctrination has never been so utterly self-evident. But will “America’s Future Codemakers and Codebreakers” be cryptographically talented enough to notice this? Who needs a hiding place when you can sit right underneath someone’s nose?