Why do we alway shoot the messenger?
As a video posted by Vasiliev on Vimeo notes, PRISM works by “intercepting protocol messages, data such as username, hostname, IP address are publicly displayed.” Exhibit observers who then gaze into the rotating prism can read the disclosed personal information about the people around them.
As Art Hack Day’s Olof Mathé told me, Transmediale’s technical contractors took it down in a “pseudo citizens arrest,” contrary to the wishes of Oliver and Vasiliev. Both the artists and Mathé put out statements in response. “Most at the (huge) opening received our text,” said Oliver in a tweet. “A few complained, leading to sudden takedown and threat.”
The threat came from the technical contractors hired by Transmediale, who said they would call the German Federal Police if the artists refused to remove a crucial component of the Beacon. Despite the best efforts of Art Hack Day and Transmediale, Oliver and Vasiliev ultimately relented and shut down PRISM. “It was our intention to provide an opportunity for the public to critically engage precisely the same methods of cellular communications interception used by certain governments against their own people and people in sovereign states,” said Oliver and Vasiliev in a statement. “It was not, in any way, our intention to harm anyone and nor did we.”
So, in homage to the spy agencies of the United States (And all of the rest of the so-called 5 eyes), a batch of artists create an exhibit that simply records and displays a tiny fraction of the information you leak out into the air around you every second. Its information the NSA and other agencies like it (and every thief and hacker) can grab with a device worth less than $60 and use to rob you blind or steal your identity — or even your freedom — without even a warrant.
The response? This scares us, shut it down. (How about Put that feed up in Time’s Square, make these agencies conform to the rule of law, throw government officials who lie to Congress in jail and force companies to harden those cell phones?
A sex addict shows up at church and admits to surfing naked pictures of women in sexually compromising positions.
The response: Put an internet filter on his computer so he can’t see them. (How about: Let’s fix why he can only trust his heart to fantasy love?)
An alcoholic shows up at a Medical Center asking for help.
The response: Here’s a dry-out session and then a program to stop you from drinking. (How about: Why does your fear-flooded heart hurt so bad you want you can’t face life?)
A sexual abuse victim shows up in group therapy unable to trust her heart to the husband who loves her dearly.
The response: Here’s a set of formulas, a batch of aggressive strategies to stand up for your rights and rules/boundaries that will help you avoid being triggered by experiencing real life — and will likely kill your marriage. (How about: How do we walk right into the heart of the pain and heal it so you can really live?)
A person shows up in a faith community with a heart wracked with guilt.
The response: On the Catholic side the person is sent to confess to a priest while, on the Protestant side, we feel morally superior because we teach the person to confess directly to God. (But, they are both devoid of courage: Really, any addressing of guilt that does not come through the raw reality of guilt being dealt with, “Once and for all,” is only making the problem worse.)
Our whole society is oriented towards quick fixes and making problems go away. Healing should be done by the end of a 30min sitcom or a 3hr movie at the worst. As long as we can’t see it, it’s all better — right?
Yet, today we stand watching the core foundations of democratic freedom in North America (To say nothing of England, Australia etc.) being obliterated, the near-universal pornification of sexuality causing disasters in marriage, drug addictions costing society billions, sexual abuse killing intimacy for around a third of marriages and 53% of believers have already fled the centers of guilt and shame our Churches have evolved into, and we still want to sweep it all under the rug???
Somewhere along the line, our entire society lost the courage it takes to see and engage real, complicated people who don’t fit into our systems and are utterly disinterested in our religious rules — and convinced ourselves it was OK to just see problems and fix them by hiding our heads in the sand.
And, if it doesn’t cease to be OK soon, that whole, “Society,” thing might not be so recognizable…