Data Streams Hito Steyerl & @katecrawford


“HITO STEYERL. For me the experience of working with the archive was very limited. I was looking for a very simple example, and I only ended up writing about a single image that was published on the Intercept. It’s a single frame of scrambled video imagery, and I tried to connect that with some of the metaphors that the analysts themselves use to describe the job they are doing in SIGINT Today, published on the Intercept.

I used a couple of their metaphors, namely, the “sea of data” they described–which you also used, Kate, in your essay for the Whitney–to try to think through the sinking feeling of basically being surrounded by this data.

KATE CRAWFORD. What I loved–going back to our panel at the Whitney and thinking about your “Sea of Data” piece–is that we both hit on these singular images about the limits of knowing. For you it was that grainy capture of video. For me, back when I was writing for the New Inquiry in 2014, I was fixated on this image, which had been redacted, that simply says, “What can we tell?” and it’s effectively a blank space. It has that double meaning that you and I have both found very intriguing: the idea that they could tell and see everything, but also that there are domains where they can tell and see nothing. There are these hard limits that are reached in the epistemology of “Collect it all” where we reach a breakdown of meaning, a profusion and granularization of information to the point of being incomprehensible, of being in an ocean of potential interpretations and predictions. Once correlations become infinite, it’s difficult for them to remain moored in any kind of sense of the real. And it’s interesting how, for both of us, that presents a counter-narrative to the current discourse of the all-seeing, all-knowing state apparatus. That apparatus is actually struggling with its own profusion of data and prediction. We know that there are these black holes, these sort of moments of irrationality, and moments of information collapse.

HITO STEYERL. Blind spy”
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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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