Archives for posts with tag: Abby Martin

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I feel it’s quite appropriate to post this interview on a Tuesday. This day now has a more sinister nickname, “Terror Tuesday”. Every few weeks, President Obama, John Brennan (new head of the C.I.A.) and other members of his national security team decide who lives and who dies via drone strike. A recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of American’s supported drone strikes in other countries against suspected terrorists, but most do not support strikes against U.S. citizens both at home and abroad. In addition to the secret drone program to kill people around the world, the U.S. is implementing surveillance drones on its soil for the first time in 2013. This invasive approach threatens the privacy and safety of American citizens, giving them no protection from these robot spies. There is one individual doing his part to give power and privacy back to the people, and his name is Adam Harvey. He’s created an intriguing counter-surveillance clothing line called “Stealth Wear”.

 

His newest project has gotten significant press from news outlets such as Wired and RT and even the artist M.I.A., who tweeted about his camouflage gear. Be advised, these items are no longer for sale on the Primitive London site. But have no fear, Adam will soon be selling them at his online “Privacy Gift Shop”. Harvey agreed to do an interview for Disco Droppings, and we talked at great length about his work and the real life issues swirling around Stealth Wear..

DD I first heard about you in an RT article covering the debut of your clothing line, Stealth Wear. Shortly after viewing this, Abby Martin, the fierce host of RT’s Breaking The Set, named you hero of the day for your counter surveillance line. Do you feel the press and promotion are encouraging more dialogue about drone use?

AH It is definitely encouraging conversation and this is really important. It took almost a decade to start having critical conversations about the impacts of the 2001 Patriot Act. And now, we’re having critical discussions about drone usage, including the banning of spy drones in Florida, even before they’re introduced. Any project that generates positive, critical discussion now is worth doing.

 

DD The Federal Aviation Administration has said that by 2020, the number of domestic drones could be as large as 30,000. How much are Americans aware of this massive domestic drone proliferation, and the scope of domestic surveillance in America since 9/11 and The Patriot Act?

AH Releasing this number also generated a lot of discussion. If evenly divided, that’s 600 drones per state. And fleets of at least several dozen in large cities, like where I live, in New York. I think Americans are smartening up to the impacts surveillance can have on privacy. But this is always subject to change. Safety is always more important than privacy. And so we’re always willing to give up more privacy in exchange for better security. That’s not necessarily a true equation though. Giving up privacy can make you weaker and more vulnerable too. It’s important to think surveillance through before implementing more of it, especially after the recent terror incident in Boston. Most all terror attacks in the US have been due to a lack of intelligence, not a lack of cameras or drones. It’s important to distinguish between the quest for safety and the right to privacy. Fleets of drones flying overhead doesn’t necessarily add safety to our lives, but it is very likely to erode privacy.

 

DD Do you feel it’s important to connect domestic drone surveillance to the overseas drone surveillance and strikes carried out by the U.S. in countries such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen? I was reading a report titled, Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan. They point out a large number of unacknowledged civilian casualties, psychological trauma to many in communities where drone strikes occur as well as only a 2% success rate for drones attempting to kill “high-level” targets. They don’t have as good a track record as some people think, and I see a slippery slope, where domestic drone surveillance could eventually morph to include domestic strikes against American citizens.

AH Yes, that’s a very important point to call out. That once unleashed, it may become impossible to know and prevent armed drones from flying above us. At the very least, it will make a good case for 2nd amendment support.

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DD The private viewing of your line was on January 17th, 2013, with this “Privacy Mode” exhibition happening from January 18th to January 31st. After you were able to get reactions from the public, how long was it before Stealth Wear was available for purchase?

AH The items went up for sale immediately on Primitive UK’s website. Their were several sales including one burqa. Overall the sales were decent. I still have some items available. During the next several months I will be unveiling a Privacy Gift Shop on my website where items from this show, as well as a few new pieces, can be purchased.

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DD One of the pieces featured in this exhibition is an “Anti-Drone Hoodie” and scarf. These are supposed to confuse thermal imaging, which is used by UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) or drones. When thermal imaging cameras are used, warm objects stand out, such as humans and other warm-blooded animals. If for example, someone is wearing these pieces, and a drone is attempting to surveil them, would only body parts such as their legs be picked up, making the drone unsure of the object it is looking at?

AH Yes, that’s basically the idea. Completely masking heat signatures is very difficult. Heat is emitted from your body and this appears as light to a thermal camera. The Stealth Wear garments are made with metalized fibers which reflect heat. This means the outside of the garment reflects the temperature of surrounding objects, and the inner layer reflects your heat. Of course that heat does not disappear. What you end up with is heat signatures that do not match that of a human. This is most effective for automated systems, using artificial intelligence to detect humans. And, to me, the automated unmanned uses of surveillance technology pose the greatest threat to privacy.

DD Your exhibit was presented by Primitive London at Tank Magazine HQ, also in London, England. I read an interview with Primitive heads Lui Nemeth and Andrew Grune, for Still In Berlin in September 2011. They were asked about some of the pieces they carry being pretty extreme. They responded, “Not all the pieces we stock would be considered wearable, but we care more about exhibiting our designers work.”. What attracted you to Primitive London? And, would you describe your “Stealth Wear” as being wearable, and also forward thinking, in it’s style execution and purpose of use?

AH I was invited to exhibit with Primitive through Nick Bates. He was interested in CV Dazzle and we met very briefly last summer at a coffee shop in London to discuss the potential for a show with Primitive. Originally, I had planned to exhibit new designs for CV Dazzle. When I showed Andrew and Lui a prototype for my new idea about anti-drone wear, they were very supportive. At that point, I had only made a hoodie. The next two pieces, the hijab and the burqa were much more directed and provocative pieces.

DD Stealth Wear is in collaboration with fashion designer, Johanna Bloomfield. What do you think are Bloomfield’s strongest qualities as a designer, and how is her aesthetic represented in your new line?

AH Johanna came into this project with a background in men’s fashion and sports apparel. The hoodie is all her design, made to shield the top portion of the wearer’s body and demonstrate the technology. The burqa was our collaboration that went through several revisions. I struggled with the idea of making any burqa at all, which I felt wold only reinforce an oppressive garment. Together, Johanna and I reworked the design into something more sporty. The burqa combines street-wear comfort with Middle Eastern heritage.

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DD Have you experienced any opposition from governments that do not understand or disagree with your attitude towards drones and surveillance?

AH I have not experienced opposition from government entities, yet. Though, I am aware that my project did not go unnoticed. Somewhere between art and national security there is a line that cannot be crossed. I don’t know where it is. And sometimes I’m on both sides.

DD Lastly, Rhizome did an artist profile on you back in June of last year. In their interview with you, writers are mentioned as key artistic influences. Who are some of these writers, and how has their philosophies, attitudes and/or themes influenced your work as an artist?

AH Writers are interesting to me because they must create a story to write about or fabricate one. As a whole, I find this type of person intriguing. The most influential writer to me has been Susan Sontag. She made photography make sense to me. Another favorite critical voice of mine is that of Christopher Hitchens. He would stop at nothing to prove his point. That’s an admirable fault to have.

Adam Harvey – Twitter

ahprojects.com

– Jimi Jaxon 

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In President Barack Obama’s words, from the 2013 State of the Union Address..

“America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.” 

At first glance, this looks fine. Cyber attacks are a real threat, and defenses need to be there. But the nature and scope of these defenses, and their invasive, vague language is a big problem. CISPA would allow private companies, intelligence firms and homeland security a way to freely share private user information. If the information is deemed a “cyber threat” it can be shared with impunity. As if it wasn’t enough for every American to have their online activities recorded since 9/11 via the NSA. CISPA goes further and removes any legal problems a third party business or intelligence agency could run into for sharing information with the government. So for our own protection, Americans will have absolutely no privacy online. Once again the rights of the people are trampled over by the government, all based on fear. 

 

I see a big gap between what the President says, and what’s going on behind the scenes. The U.S. government has hounded whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, for revealing America’s true colors. They would deem whistleblowers as “cyber threats”, and with the passage of CISPA it would be much easier to hunt these people and organizations down. From childhood I’ve been taught that if you’re dishonest about your activities or your doing something that’s harming others, that’s wrong. If someone points this out to you, you should listen, examine yourself and stop the bad behavior. It seems that in the world of American government, those rules don’t apply. If you do something that’s wrong, hide it, lie about it, and if someone points it out, try to throw them in jail. Great lesson for all the youngsters out there. 

These attitudes show that this country doesn’t actually believe in all that freedom and liberty stuff. They are only words if actions do not follow. I’m not sure what to call this country anymore. Tracking every move of Americans online, stripping away my right to a trial under the NDAA, leading a witch hunt against those exposing corrupt government practices and pushing for a final end to internet privacy with CISPA doesn’t sound like America. Call it the United States of Dystopia; one nation under fear, with liberty and possible indefinite detention for all. 

 

CISPA, aka H.R. 624 has now been referred to the House Committee on Intelligence. With an executive order passed to give it a boost, support from companies like Facebook, and a lack of serious conversation about it in the mainstream media, the government hopes to get it passed into law. It seems intentional to constantly bombard citizens with confusing acronyms like SOPA/PIPA/FISA/CISPA and cryptic language so they don’t understand or don’t care about the nature of these bills. It’s draining to attempt to unpack all this information at my small level. But for the sake of the internet, and to join those who wish to protect and encourage it, I will continue to share my thoughts and stand up against the powers that be. Internet pioneers and activists like Aaron Swartz didn’t die for the rest of us to sit back and take it lying down. 

There is still time to contact Congress and say “violating our privacy is not an option.”. To find out more information and get involved, check out these sites..

Cispaisback.org

Savetheinternet.com 

– Jimi Jaxon 

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A couple days ago I was inspired by an episode of Breaking The Set with Abby Martin. She is an artist, founder of Media Roots, B.O.D. of Project Censored and host of my favorite news program, RT’s ‘Breaking The Set’. She has a fearless attitude toward investigative journalism, presenting her stories with a burning passion. I think some people watch the show and think that she’s coming on too strong, or too radical. Unfortunately, many newscasters read their teleprompters in such a robotic, insensitive fashion, that they make others appear over the top. It reminds me of an M.I.A. interview from a few years with Q TV. I’ve mentioned it in the past, and continue to return to her words, as I think she nails this topic. She says, “The only reason why you think I’m causing a stir is because no one else is doing it. Like, that’s why you think I stick out like a sore thumb as someone whose obviously so wrong..”.

 

In the episode posted above, at 7:51, Abby begins her “Artists’ Duty” segment. Nina Simone once said, “An artists’ duty is to reflect the times.”. Abby goes on to say, “In today’s society, art is going through a transformational crisis. Contemporary artists are becoming victims of the consumer culture of mass commercialization and corporatization.”. She empowers and challenges artists to carry on with Nina Simone’s message, instead of becoming another victim of a twisted system. One such person exemplifying this attitude to a T is LA-based street artist and muralist, Mear One. Abby Martin interviewed him for ‘Breaking The Set’, starting at 19:08. This was my first time seeing his work, and I was completely blown away by his politically charged art.

They discuss a few of his pieces including “Freedom For Humanity”, “Humanity vs. The Machine” and “Allegory of Complacency”. These political satires depict the socio-economic system that has a stranglehold on our lives. This system is often hidden from the majority of the public, and sadly, conversation about these issues can result in people being dismissed as crazy and/or conspiracy theorists.

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The remedy for this lack of conversation often comes in the form of art. It can speak in ways that words cannot, conveying messages that penetrate deeper than any argument. It has the ability to reach and challenge people across all borders of language, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political affiliation.

 

Since 1986, Mear One aka Kalen Ockerman has been building a body of work that has gained him the title of “The Michelangelo of Graffiti”. His bio states,  “He is considered by many to be Los Angeles’ most prolific graffiti artist because of the way he revolutionized graffiti with his fine-art realism, breaking out of traditional 2D letter forms, and using perspective to develop complex characters with dynamic backgrounds in epic scale.”. He takes his inspirations; ancient technology, science, philosophy, mythology, mysticism, political and cultural revolution and the apocalypse, and blends them into deeply powerful statements through the medium of visual art. 

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Mear One – Twitter Tumblr  Facebook 

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– Jimi Jaxon