Educating Gen Zs on data privacy through art
Titled ‘PR1V4CY’, the programme is part of SIFA 2023.
For the majority of Gen Zs, there’s a collective tendency to mindlessly click “Accept Cookies” and hastily agree to lengthy Terms & Conditions without giving them a second glance.
Little do they know, with a mere flicker of hesitation, they surrender their data, rights, and privacy to the vast realms of the Internet. More often than not, they are oblivious to the implications of these mindless actions.
In a bid to shed light on the urgent need for informed digital citizenship, eight artists from around the world have banded together to address this issue through the means of films and digital animations. Each clip will last a total of 30 to 60 seconds.
The programme, PR1V4CY, is part of the 2023 edition of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) that’s opening on Friday (May 19).
Curator MOJOKO, also known as Steve Lawler, shares that conceiving such an idea stemmed the latest concerns about data privacy. For instance, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and the congressional hearing with TikTok’s CEO.
“…it just felt like a very heightened theme and quite a good button for artists to address. I think everyone can relate to it,” he says, adding that the primary audience is expected to be Gen Zs.
“It’s for young people to reassess and reevaluate privacy for them, and essentially to not sign away T&Cs all the time and to question online surveys…Your personal data is of value to other people and it’s important to evaluate yourself and to know what you should share and what you shouldn’t.”
For Steve, having these eight artists onboard is something he’s excited about, given their diverse styles and backgrounds.
He added: “…it’s quite interesting to see how they relate to one another and sit as a family of work.”
With everyone having their unique viewpoints, he looks forward to seeing their different approaches.
Personally, Steve’s piece delves into the idea of modern interpretations of privacy, set in an “old context”. The juxtaposition of visuals serve to highlight how privacy was really valued in the past, but is now of little importance to many.
Alongside him are Singaporean creatives AikBeng Chia (ABC) and Sadiq Mansor (249.png).
For AikBeng, who is a prolific photographer cum illustrator, joining this project was all in good timing as he’s currently toying with artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
He notes: “Images generated by AI are actually gathered from the pool of information online so I felt it was appropriate. The timing was just right to use AI to create an artwork but on top of my traditional stuff.”
Adding to this conversation, Steve says, “It’s a conceptual fit. This idea of using AI is probing into our sort of mass brain… we’re interpreting it as an invasion of privacy.”
In line with this, the piece AikBeng will push out a mixed media artwork featuring cinemagraphs of people looking at their phones under surveillance cameras.
He utilised AI software MidJourney to create characters before loading them into AfterEffects to animate motion.
As someone who spends a good amount of time on the streets photographing, AikBeng talks of his encounters with people keying in confidential information in public places.
Through his art, he hopes for more awareness among Singaporeans when it comes to data protection – both online and offline.
Read more: Student documents Golden Mile Complex, inspired by AikBeng Chia
Similarly, Sadiq has made use of language model ChatGPT to generate a poem as a means of inspiration for his illustration.
Titled A Poem About Privacy, his artwork delves more into our personal headspace and serves as a reminder to audiences that “it’s always in us to have that original thought”. He urges people to have confidence in themselves, instead of being constantly consumed by content out there and being “manipulated into that direction”.
“I think the question that overarches all of this is, is privacy a thing of the past? And that’s the biggest worry, you know?
“If we’re not careful, we’ll relinquish all our rights to privacy. And that’s, in my opinion, not good. Because really awful people will take advantage of that. And you’ll be quite helpless in some situations, without privacy,” says Sadiq.
PR1V4CY launches on May 19, in tandem with the official opening of SIFA 2023. The videos are set to be released one at a time.