Magnús Ingvar Ágústsson

Six lines / The Oracle's Query

Surveillance is often defended by the motto “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear”. It has been described it as the “most common retort against privacy advocates.” It is a dangerous statement as it immediately infringes on our rights to privacy. A person might be doing something legal without thats said person wanting his/her actions to be surveilled.

“If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

This quote is from Cardinal Richelieu, one of the most powerful man in the ranks of Louis XIII. He is said to have founded the first secret service in the world and controlled a vast network of spies throughout France. He censored the discussion of politics in public places and executed anyone who opposed him.

In a society where privacy is at risk and waning, the power entitled to those in control of personal information (such as private messages, digital transactions, browser and location history) can be abused and damage freedom and the quality of life.

Myth has been used throughout history as a tool of interpretation and understanding, a gathering of shared experiences, such as historical or religious events, nature and natural phenomena. Often spoken through personification creating behavioral models and as a moral compass.

Vague understandings of emerging technological concepts and how they work, create fertile soil for the conception of myths.

The piece is made with an encryption technology called “visual encryption”, which is a method to send information privately. Two shares of encrypted noise fields are made and when the two fields are superimposed they produce an image. The two prints are made of black and white split pixels arranged seemingly randomly across the surface of the posters, but when combined a message appears.

The Oracle’s Query is an exploration of our modern day technology with the tool kit of mythology, it offers an interpretation into the vast and ever changing landscape of technology.

The Cloud becomes a metaphysical data-center in the heavens, meme cats and self-aware robots roam the countryside, where the sky is darken by flocks of drones who loom over vast data-mines, and in the dark corners of the AI’s imagination, the creatures of the Deep Dream emerge.

The tapestry depicts a modern-day technological cosmology, a logical medium for the interwoven history of the computer and the Jacquard loom, both were programmed with binary systems through/via punch-cards. Ada Lovelace predicted that these new machines (computers) could be used for “other things besides number”, referring to music, art and poetry drawing parallels between the pattern making looms and the computers

Featured image:
Photo by Rafael Pinho for HA

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