House of An-Aesthesia (HOAA) utilizes fashion as a tool to disrupt our collective numbness to the surveillance and policing we experience in everyday spaces. HOAA interrogates the intersections of fashion, race, gender, sexuality, ability, policing, and capitalism in order to build life-affirming communities through an abolitionist framework. In the US, the current state of militarized policing blurs the lines between private/public, criminal/innocent, and human/less-than-human. We live in a world in which we perform for surveillance technologies every day. HOAA takes the form of an experimental runway show with 12 ungendered garments designed to perform for and to disrupt surveillance technologies such as facial recognition software. There is no blueprint for the abolitionist world we want to build, but House of An-Aesthesia is one enactment of this world that embraces glamor and defiant exuberance in order to counter the fear and violence created by the present police surveillance state.
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WHAT IS MASS SURVEILLANCE?
Increased community surveillance leads to increased encounters between residents and the police, and as we know too well, more police encounters with people of color lead to more injury and death.
Surveillance technology deployments by police agencies are overwhelmingly unleashed against communities of color. Increased surveillance on communities of color will turn our world into an open-air prison. Even worse, it will place residents at extreme risk, because all police encounters begin with surveillance.
Some mass surveillance tools used by police:
1. Surveillance planes with powerful wide-area cameras that can record the public movements of every person in an entire city
2. Surveillance light bulbs, which can transform streetlights into cameras with microphones
3. Surveillance cameras with facial recognition which can track you whenever you are in public, and are far more likely to misidentify persons of color
4. Cell-site simulators (a.k.a. “Stingrays”) which use your cellphone to locate you and track your movements
5. Automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) that track whenever you drive
6. Intelligent Virtual Assistants (Amazon Alexa, ECHO, Dot, Google Assistant, Nest, Siri)–these devices record and listen into conversations; they are vulnerable to security breaches and can be hacked remotely. Police can obtain warrants for the data and recordings collected by these devices.
7. Remote exploitation refers to software that can be used to turn on your computer/smartphone camera or microphone without being detected. This can be used by private hackers as well as FBI, police agencies, nation states, and the National Security Agency (NSA)
And the list goes on...
Rozita Dara, "The Dark Side of Alexa, Siri and Other Personal Digital Assistants," theconversation.com, The Conversation, December 15, 2019, https://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-alexa-siri-and-other-personal-digital-assistants-126277
Chad Marlow and Gillian Ganesan, "Stop the Police Surveillance State Too," aclu.org, ACLU, August 19, 2020, https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law-reform/stop-the-police-surveillance-state-too/
"How Hackers and Governments Can Hack Your Smartphone Camera," Tech Insider, March 7, 2017,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04lFXbjO11c
Sara Tipton, "How to Protect Yourself From Microphone and Camera Hacking," activistpost.com, Activist Post, September 17, 2019. https://www.activistpost.com/2019/09/how-to-protect-yourself-from-microphone-and-camera-hacking.html
1. Critical Resistance, Abolitionist Toolkit
2. Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence