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Curtain Online Issue #1: End Time Super Topic

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The world has been grappling with the COVID-19 virus for almost half a year now. As this nightmare-like period continues, our social lives remain very limited. With COVID-19 being a threat to human lives worldwide, a classic political theme from Hobbes’ Leviathan has been featured in the debate about the role of the state: that the people must sacrifice their own rights in order to achieve self-preservation. Countries around the world have adopted a variety of methods, such as personal location tracking, the use of algorithms to identify suspected virus case and so on, in order to control the actions of citizens as well as the spread of the pandemic. The thoughts of Giorgio Agamben are also reflected here, in that exceptional circumstances may allow a country or other institutions to take advantage of the opportunity to extend its or their power.

 

Our daily, prevalent dependence on digital devices has generated a wealth of personal data, a valuable resource that can be used for different purposes. These devices act as interfaces between people and the real world; they provide access to information and life conveniences, opportunities for social connection, and even permission to go to certain places. While technology is seemingly supporting people during this period, the data collected are also giving institutions access to various methods of control. Our behaviors are becoming the basis of these data. But if we see the picture from a larger perspective, what kind of impact would a huge network between nation-states bring in a near future, with an aim to facilitate the international exchange of data and information more fluid? How does earth become a subject of surveillance? The relationship between human, themselves and the world is undergoing crucial change because of the Big Data processing through the digital medium: they are almost the only way to know and to connect with the world, in order to ultimately control it.

 

In the first issue of the CURTAIN Project, we will focus on the available knowledge, criticisms and imaginations of contemporary surveillance mechanisms, and more importantly, on how people can stand out of the actual system of seeing, surveillance and control.

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