“Deletion Process_Only you can see my history: Investigating Digital Privacy, Digital Oblivion, and Control on Personal Data Through an Interactive Art Installation” by Goni

  • ©Kryiaki Goni




    Deletion Process_Only you can see my history: Investigating Digital Privacy, Digital Oblivion, and Control on Personal Data Through an Interactive Art Installation



    In light of recent controversies surrounding massive data collection by corporations and government agencies, digital privacy, the right to oblivion, and data ownership have become increasingly important concerns. This paper describes the author’s artwork, Deletion Process_Only you can see my history, an interactive art installation based on her eight-year personal search history in the Google search engine. While the personal search history maintains a sense of privacy, according to the company’s own declaration, the author reveals this archive to viewers in order to raise awareness and provoke reflection on the aforementioned subjects. The author discusses her motivation, describes the making process and the decisions made at each step of designing the installation, while integrating at the same time a deeper discussion on the place of digital privacy and oblivion within the contemporary approach to art and technology.


    1. Surveillance & Society, <http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/surveillance-and-society/about/history>.

    2. D. Lyon, The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 57–80.

    3. G. Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October Vol. 59, 7 (Winter 1997).

    4. See, for example, J. Finn, “Surveillance Studies and Visual Art: An Examination of Jill Magid’s Evidence Locker,” Surveillance & Society Vol. 10, No. 2, 134–149 (2012).

    5. L.J. Bannon, “Forgetting as a Feature, Not a Bug: the Duality of Memory and Implications for Ubiquitous Computing,” CoDesign Journal Vol. 2, No. 1, 3–15 (2006).

    6. V. Mayer-Schönberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009) 12.

    7. A.R. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory (New York: Basic Books, 1968).

    8. Google Gmail, <http://goo.gl/RqD9j>.

    9. M. Kuneva, Keynote Speech, Roundtable on Online Data Collection, Targeting and Profiling, Brussels, March 31, 2009, <http://goo.gl/fmmsB>.

    10. D.J. Solove, “‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy,” San Diego Law Review Vol. 44, 765 (2007).

    11. Ibid., 764.

    12. European Commision, “Commission Proposes a Comprehensive Reform of the Data Protection Rules,” Brussels, January 25, 2012, <http://goo.gl/Ulekq>.

    13. N. Lawrence, “Why the Ownership of Personal Data in the Hands of a Few Should Worry Us,” Alternet, <http://goo.gl/vA53hk>.

    14. M. Pasquinelli, “Anomaly Detection: The Mathematization of the Abnormal in the Metadata Society,” <https://www.academia.edu/10369819/Anomaly_Detection_The_Mathematization_of_the_Abnormal_in_the_Metadata_Society>.

    15. Ibid.

    16. Ibid.

    17. P. Maass, “Art in a Time of Surveillance,” The Intercept, November 13, 2014, <https://theintercept.com/2014/11/13/art-surveillance-explored-artists/>.

    18. CTRL[SPACE], Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, <http://ctrlspace.zkm.de/e/>.

    19. E. and F. Mattes, Life Sharing, <http://0100101110101101.org/>.

    20. Eva and Franco Mattes co-curated the exhibition Black Chamber, on the theme of surveillance, on display at the Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 10–April 1, 2016. <http://aksioma.org/black.chamber/>.

    21. J. Dawson, “Tracking Himself: ‘The Orwell Project’,” The Washington Post, May 12, 2007, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/11/AR2007051102030.html>.

    22. H. Elahi, Tracking Transience, <http://trackingtransience.net/>.

    23. D. Vasiliev and J. Oliver, “PRISM: The Beacon Frame,” <https://criticalengineering.org/projects/prism-the-beacon-frame/>.

    24. Laura Poitras: Astro Noise, an exhibition catalog with chapters by notable contributors, <http//whitney.org/Exhibitions/LauraPoitras>.

    25. K. Buford, “Data Art vs. Visualization? The Distinction is Unproductive, Says Artist Jer Thorp,” Silicon Angle, August 22, 2012, <http://goo.gl/JGhkl>.

    26. K. Hillis, M. Petit, and K. Jarrett, Google and the Culture of Search (New York: Routledge, 2012) 27–30.

    27. Ibid.

    28. Ibid.

    29. “Google (verb),” Wikipedia, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_(verb)>.

    30. K. Goni, Deletion Process_Only you can see my history, <kyriakigoni.com/history>. The piece runs live online.

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