Open Call: Tracked and Traced by Science Gallery Detroit - art and data security


Hello, dear community,

this call by the SCience Gallery Detroit seems to be a perfect fit to the topics and creativity of this community:


Watchmen and sentinels were joined over time by security guards and closed-circuit TV, and now, by video, data scraping, and bio-sensors. Retail loyalty programs, website cookies, law enforcement facial recognition software, routine health screening, and airport security lists are all part of the vast presence of different kinds of surveillance in our society. And, these are just the forms that are part of mainstream awareness. What else lurks in the realms where data algorithms are developed, flourish, and get put into practice to drive profit, achieve military or security aims, or control other human behavior? While these technologies are all too often deployed in ways contrary to our individual interests, they have also been used to advance personal and public health, reduce human impact on the environment, and engage citizens in participatory monitoring of the natural world.

How can we understand and gain control over these practices, unravelling dystopian connections, and further developing utopian-leaning connections?

Possible Themes and Topics

How can we play a part in making the design of algorithms and data scraping practices ethically responsible and mindful of individuals and communities? Surveillance has been used to monitor the environment, to track measures to slow environmental degradation, and to secure the elimination of polio. What are other ways science could use surveillance? Are there biological forms of surveillance? Tracking the volume of cell phone usage in a region has helped follow outbreaks of disease and to guide emergency disaster response after earthquakes and hurricanes. How could these kinds of surveillance flourish without leading to massive invasions of privacy? Could we create socially responsible algorithms? Could we create processes for communal participatory design of algorithms and data collection, and create responsive platforms that provide ethical accountability and socially beneficial forms of surveillance? Could we prevent AI surveillance from reinforcing racing and gender divisions?


Experimentation, provocation, and research are at the heart of Science Gallery Detroit’s values and programs. This exhibition will explore the practice and concept of dystopian and utopian aspects of surveillance, through the lens of artists, psychologists, story tellers, digital gamers, molecular biologists, performers, neuroscientists, designers, computer scientists, nurses, engineers, musicians, mathematicians, architects, and young people. The list of possibilities is endless.

Your proposal could be a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, digital intervention, research project, virtual reality game, or other activity. We strongly recommend that you keep our target audience of young people aged 15-25 years in mind and consider including interactive or participatory elements. We would love humor to feature in the exhibition. Check out our FAQ page, for tips on what makes a good submissions, answers to questions, etc.

Ask questions! If you’re unsure about an aspect of your proposal, email

Ping @hugi and @nadia, do you know people from previouse projects who might be interested in this?

@Geminiimatt and @thornet might know people from the Mozilla and Tactical Tech scenes?