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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Sam Stahnke at 8:08PM
Art For Spooks

Blog posting written by Sam Stahnke Cinema Production, '17, FLEFF Intern, Brooksville, Maine

UFOs, "cyber magicians" and references to buffalo meat all pop up in the augmented book Art For Spooks.  

To create the book Nicholas Knouf and Claudia Pedersen culled out images from leaked NSA documents.  Knouf works as a professor of media studies at Wellesley College while Pedersen writes and lectures on modern art with a focus on technology.

The act of viewing the book through its app scrambles the data displayed on the page.  Then the app uploads the data to social media platforms.  Lastly algorithmic manipulation scatters the data's point of origin.

The project began in the aftermath of the June 2013 disclosures by Edward Snowden.

Knouf and Pedersen designed their work to subvert categorization.  By fragmenting and altering the data Art For Spooks attempts to address and interrogate the NSA's methods of categorization.

The content of Art For Spooks mixes the untoward with the vernacular.  For instance, workplace gossip and UFOs sit side-by-side and also layered on top of each other.  Knouf and Pedersen place the absurdity of some images (like that of Donald Duck with a metallic body and dollar sign eyes) against the everyday operation of modern surveillance culture.

Certain little known bits of information came to light.  For example NSA agents wrote into an internal advice column called "Ask Zelda."  According to Knouf the column contained questions similar to "Dear Abby" columns. 

"We wanted to explore the cultural imagery of the NSA," said Knouf.

The book Art For Spooks can be downloaded from the website while the app is on the App Store.

Knouf and Pedersen will discuss their project at FLEFF LAB FRIDAY: HABITATS on April 10 at 11:00 AM.

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