Tate Liverpool: Threats to Freedom, Privacy and the Public Sphere in the Age of Social Media and Mass Surveillance.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.47.41 PM copy7 February 2015



Should you change the way you use the internet? 

GCHQ’s Tempora programme is a secret mass surveillance programme revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. The government would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ its existence – although it was recently described as lawful in a UK court of law.

Join the debate, get published and become a citizen journalist at Tate Liverpool 7/8th February

Share your thoughts and feelings on the impact of surveillance on our digital lives and get them published in this mass writing event for The Opticon newspaper! Help is on hand to get you started.


The Serving Library on the Ground Floor of Tate Liverpool will be transformed into a crowd-sourced newsroom for the weekend, exploring the impact of surveillance on our lives. A special series of talks, writing, and reading – collectively generating material for a special one-off newspaper entitled The Opticon – will take place across the weekend. Joining the debate for two special talks are Professor Christian Fuchs from University of Westminster and artist, Erica Scourti. These talks will look at themes of privacy, reading and social media.

On display will be a collection of surveillance and privacy based information, provocations and questions, formulated with the assistance of Privacy International.

Designer Mark Simmonds, a recent graduate of the Werkplaats Typografie School, Arnhem and publisher of Alma Matters, will be artist in residence over the weekend. Simmonds will be on hand to co-design the final publication.

Professor Christian Fuchs asks: What are the implications of economic and political control of social media for freedom, privacy and the public sphere – in the age of Edward Snowden’s revelations about Internet mass surveillance, a long-lasting socio-economic crisis, and the sustained critique of the likes of Facebook, Google, and other related global online advertising agencies?

The Outage

Artist Erica Scourti presents The Outage – her intimate ghost-written memoir written by J.A. Harrington solely using traces of Scourti’s online life, including purchase and search histories, email fragments, and social media entries. Scourti will produce new performance writing in The Serving Library across the weekend in response to the project themes, especially for The Opticon.


The Opticon is devised by Nathan Jones and Sam Skinner, and is part of the artists’ longer term Torque project, which explores conflations of mind, language and technology, thorough symposia, installation, performance, publishing and workshops.; Their recently published Torque #1 book is available to download free from Link Editions – comprising contributions from writers including Esther Leslie and Lambros Malafouris and artists’ Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Cécile B Evans.

The Opticon publication and event is part of the second phase of the Torque project, entitled The Act of Reading, that explores reading from a wide variety of perspectives, in particular the impact of new technology upon how and what we read.