Art + Thought / AF 2010 - Vicente Matallana

AF 2010 - Vicente Matallana

Intimacy is overvalued. Or is it?

“The right to privacy and data protection on Internet is unreal, fictitious, virtual.”
Artemi Rallo, Director of the Spanish Agency for Data Protection. From the Spanish newspaper El Pais, 8th August 2010.

At last, we have reached some kind of, almost universal, social consensus; the fervor to compile information on citizens by governments and corporations, seems to be supported judging by the virtual exhibitionism of the citizen, commonly referred to as the user.

While the State obsessively establishes exhaustive surveillance systems to monitor its citizens, one surveillance camera for every 16 people in the United Kingdom, companies and corporations, in their eagerness to know us (sell to us) better, spend their money on personalized polling systems via telephone and operator despite all of this having become obsolete thanks to Internet and user habits. The user wants to be seen and, for the first time in history, he or she has access to the technology to do so universally, even involuntarily, and to leave his or her most intimate thoughts on view, 140 characters.

What are the social considerations of this? Would be the rhetorical questions. While it is true that we voluntarily live in a permanent state of exhibition, of nakedness, in the same way that, paradoxically, the excess of data means that the amount of information proportioned by users makes the tools for its analysis inoperative in a precise and global way, but let’s not forget that everything goes while we live in these, in principle, joyful democracies in which our rights are legally protected and in which the state, as representative of its citizens, always seeks the best for its populace.

Another scenario would present itself should, for some misadventure, we fall into a totalitarian system, dictatorship or occupation; simply networks of friends would save a lot of time for the interrogator who happened to be on duty.

However, for the time being, we cannot prevent a catastrophist reading of the fact that we live in public from having a nasty whiff of intransigence to it in contrast to a more positive view of the facts. Citizens can be seen, information, even that of a personal nature, is free.

Intimacy is overvalued. Intimacy is a 20th century concept; we are now living a new idea of intimacy accommodated in what is public. What is public creates our new identity and protects it. Our fears are something banal belonging to the past, or are they?

Let’s not forget the final warning from The Plague by Albert Camus:

“Hearing shouts of joy rising up from the streets, Rieux became aware that life and safety are always in jeopardy. For he knew what the delirious crowd did not. He knew that the bacillus of the plague never dies and never disappears. He knew that it can remain for decades slumbering in furniture and in linens, and that it waits patiently in bedrooms and cellars in luggage and waste bins, until, perhaps, the day will come when the Plague will awaken its fleas and its rats and send them out to die in a doomed city.
For this reason, the affirmation and the question are to be maintained; Intimacy is overvalued. Or is it?
Vicente Matallana
LaAgencia / Director

Text originally published in ArtFutura's 2010 catalog.

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