The style of state surveillance: Mediations of the NSA as a public secret
Created to gather and analyze intelligence during the Cold War, the National Security Agency (NSA) is a key arm of the US surveillance state that relies on protective secrecy around its activities. Yet in June 2013, Edward Snowden famously leaked a trove of internal NSA documents showing the agency’s expansion into blanket surveillance practices since 9/11. The Snowden leaks precipitated a period of revelation concerning the NSA as what Michael Taussig has called a public secret. In this article, we consider how the public secret of the NSA is mediated through its visual styles, in particular through the promotional communications of the NSA’s public website, the internal communications of PowerPoint slides among the Snowden cache, and the material communications of the agency’s physical buildings. A semiotic approach to the way the NSA mixes romantic, futuristic, and bureaucratic styles shows how the binary ideology of the Cold War continues to permeate the NSA’s mediations of its public secret.
Keywords: surveillance, secrecy, NSA, Snowden, semiotics, ideology, bureaucracy
Editorial by Dayna McLeod
INTERVIEW, as in:
– A formal consultation usually to evaluate qualifications
– A meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person
– A report or reproduction of information so obtained
These Merriam Webster definitions are surely a starting point for most of us as to what constitutes an interview, but what happens when we experiment with this format and address the relationship between interviewer and interviewee? In this issue of NMP, I wanted to collect interviews with artists about their works and practices as well as writing about interviewing: the interview process, non-traditional forms of interviewing like the conversational method, dialogical exchanges, and other approaches to inquiry that are intuitive and self-reflective of the conversational process itself.
Taking advantage of NMP’s support of non-traditional formats, this collection of artists, filmmakers, writers, and academics use the structure and setting of the interview to play with, capitalize on, extend, expose, tease, and otherwise interrogate the form. Here, ‘the interview’ is a site for the co-creation of knowledge between participants.
Lily Cho expands on interview as form with cover artist Chun Hua Catherine Dong as they find common ground about shame, Asianness, and loss through Dong’s performance-based photography series Skin Deep (2018) and Mother (2017). Their thinking together here generates an inter/view that Cho describes as “a form of being mutually seen, of being together in seeing, and of finding ways of seeing that are between and among the lines of difference.”
Working with her field notes and centering what is often cut from published interviews (feelings, overhead lighting, vulnerabilities), Danica Evering discusses how artist/priestess Orev Katz, artist/scholar Cristóbal Martinez, and writer/curator cheyanne turionsnavigate, trouble, and work with institutional conditions of living, art making, and activism. Delving into their practices as feminist filmmakers and educators, Irene Lusztig and Julie Wyman interview each other about interviewing. They discuss their successes, failures, and evolving approaches to the documentary interview process in their film work and teaching.
A thoughtful analysis of a conversation about a conversation, Deanna Fong and Karis Shearer discuss a 1969 exchange between Canadian West Coast fiction writer [Gladys] Maria Hindmarch and UBC professor and poetry aficionado Warren Tallman, who talk about events that catalyzed the formation of the Vancouver poetry collective TISH. Fong and Shearer examine the public versus private archived materiality of this history, and the implications that personal and social relationships have had on excavating this scene while considering confidentiality, privacy, and disclosure.
Mikhel Proulx talks digital and social practice with artist Jess MacCormack about their Tumblr project where poo emojis glitter and pop culture bleeds. This piece features a showcase of stunning Jess Mac animated gifs that are irreverent, brutal, critical, and hilarious.
Poet, dancer, choreographer, and Griffin Poetry Prize nominee Aisha Sasha John shares with us an interview that was conducted with her by writer Raquel A. Russell about the relationship between her movement and writing practices. Sarah Manya writes about her interview-based video installation, Nomad Sessions, and Catherine Lavoie-Marcusinterviews non-disciplinary artist Johanna Householder about how she uses a chainsaw to cut through bad habits, bullshit, historical frameworks, and pride.
A very sincere thank you to all of the writers and artists who contributed their words, artwork, time, and thinking to this issue, and a big thank you to copy editor extraordinaire, Tamara Shepherd for her work.
Thank you Mél Hogan and M-C MacPhee for having me back to guest edit one of the final issues of No More Potlucks. Your work on NMP over the past decade has been so incredibly important to so many queers, writers, artists, and activists: thank you <3
The CIH working group on Genomics, Bioinformatics and the Climate Crisis is proud to present:
Kim TallBear & Jessica Kolopenuk
Decolonizing Science and Technology
March 28, 2018
12 to 1 p.m.
This volume brings together a range of papers that fruitfully engage with the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in San Diego, California: Interventions. Here “intervention” points to a range of communication practices that engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or socio-cultural practice, in order to alter and disrupt events and the norms and practices that contribute to their occurrence. Interventions prohibit events from proceeding in a “normal” course. Interventions approach or critique practices and phenomenon resulting from tensions or absences occurring in: events, structures, (institutional governmental, media industry), discourses, and socio-cultural and subcultural events. Intervention presents the opportunity to explore boundaries, assumptions and strategies that appear to be different or irreconcilable, viewing them instead as possibilities for productive engagements. Communication interventions-in both research and practice-insert insights from diverse voices, marginal positions, emerging organizational practices and digital technologies, to broaden and enrich dialogue. Interventions bring complex reframings to events and phenomenon. Interventions seek to alter a course and effect changed practices in a range of spheres: governmental and social institutions, cultural and nongovernmental groups; industry and organizational life, new media and digital spaces, socio-cultural environments, subcultural groups, health environments, affective and behavioral life, and in everyday life.