MPC members have been involved in a number of public engagement activities around 'veillance'. 'Veillance' is Prof. Steve Mann's term for 'mutual watching'. It includes surveillance of citizens and consumers by state and commercial enterprises (a form of 'watching from above'). It also includes 'sousveillance' of peers and of surveillant entities by ordinary citizens (a form of 'watching from below').
Across 2017-18, MPC teamed up with Ronan Devlin (Pontio Artist-in-Residence) to help deliverVeillance - an immersive artwork that makes visible state and commercial surveillance of people's digital communications. This was funded by Arts Council Wales and The Space. Created by Devlin, with academic input coordinated by Gillian Jein, it involved significant inter-disciplinary input (team members included a data privacy expert (Andrew McStay), Veillance expert (Vian Bakir), cultural citizenship expert (Gillian Jein), software developers (Carwyn Edwards, Jamie Woodruff), a visualiser (Michael Fluckiger) and a sound engineer (Ant Dickinson).
This installation developed real-time responsive software to surveil unencrypted data flowing through attendees' smart devices when connected to the exhibition's wifi. It showed the public the extent to which their data and communications are routinely surveilled by commercial and state surveillance organisations. Attendees' web browsing revealed words that are identified by UK and US global security services as 'triggers' for potential suspicious activity. These words were re-rendered creatively in real-time to appear as floating texts, projected on the four walls of the exhibition space. A list of websites with which attendees' devices were communicating was also created in real-time, illustrating the constant communication between attendees, their data and outside surveillant organisations.
The team launched the Veillance installation at Pontio Arts & Innovation Centre on 24 Feb 2017, with a public panel on the importance of art in public education on complex, abstract issues like data surveillance; and why the public needs to understand these issues.Veillance, exhibited at FACT (Liverpool) for a week in 2016 and at Pontio White Room (Bangor) for three weeks in 2017.