You Are the Object of a Secret Extraction Operation
In her guest essay in The New York Times Sunday Review, psychologist and philosopher Shoshana Zuboff outlines how surveillance capitalism is the dominant economic institution of our time, with countervailing law being nearly non-existent. Amidst the calls to regulate surveillance empires like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, Zuboff asks some hard questions: “will the call to ‘regulate Facebook’ dissuade lawmakers from a deeper reckoning? Or will it prompt a heightened sense of urgency? Will we finally reject the old answers and free ourselves to ask the new questions, beginning with this: What must be done to ensure that democracy survives surveillance capitalism?”
With the narrative of extraction in mind, while working on this animated illustration I tried to focus on the idea of our lives, identities, and thoughts as individuals being pulled from us, and processed into bits of data that’s distributed and traded in the vast void of surveillance capitalist empires. With every pulse, and every breath, we emit more fragments of our souls and bodies, and get “sucked” into the surrounding void, endlessly. As the emission goes on, these fragments change color and create their own depth of field, in a way that visualizes the complex and urgent character of this unregulated dispersion of personal information and the threats it poses.