Week 25: Heath Bunting, privacy for artists

What a fascinating lecture this week. What thoughts do people have about it?

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The boxed and ready to go identity could be a cool thing for DV shelters to have and utilize. They could provide a phone as well which would help with the stalkerware concern. I’ll talk to my local one and see if they would potentially be interested in this.

Also, I am now curious if there would be any benefit to a straight one-to-one swap in identity. My best friend and I try and use each other’s faces on social media but i’m wondering what would happen if we changed SSNs and Bank Accounts and somehow got new IDs.

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I definitely think this all warrants more research here in the US as to both the practicality and legality of all of this because I do think it could have a great many practical uses, even if these identities would only be temporary. As Wren mentioned, DV victims could greatly benefit from this. POC & immigrants suffering harassment & constant surveillance might be able to get some relief.

A low-level example of my accidental research into the power of an invented identity: My mother still gets SPAM snail mail for weird accounts I made online as a kid with names I made up like Dida (one of my nicknames for my sister) Krill. There was a point when this Dida Krill showed up in White Page listings as well & at some point, she became associated with an address in West Virginia without my intervention. This was back in like 1996, so I can only imagine how quickly you could cultivate an entirely plausible identity in consumer America now.

I’ve been looking into Heath’s borderxing project a bit & it’s amazing to me how easy some of these crossings seem. I’ve always wondered how easy (or difficult) it would be to try to cross borders without detection & I love that Heath actually took this project on. I have always joked about stowing away back to Canada… if I suddenly vanish one day… don’t come looking. :ghost:

So many thoughts floating through my head. Amazing lecture.

Wow. Heath’s talk for me was a syncretization of all the things we’ve been talking about over our course. And at the same time the work he’s doing is creatively testing the boundaries of a practice of privacy that endeavors to protect the thing which we might call our identity or our self (it’s components and it’s movements) from degradation by the forces of observation, scrutiny, coercion and co-option. But in this network we move in (or system: technical, political, economic, e.g.) that relies on verifications for credibility and stability, it is my understanding that the bona fides which undergird this whole thing are really just completely flimsy. See: ‘identity theft’ or data breach. I’m trying to think of one verifiable piece of evidence that proves who I am that isn’t paper based and isn’t issued by an institution or a corporation, and that encompasses more than a description of me and my location and credentials for some service. So ‘identity’ lives across palimpsest, holy ghost and stack of papers, a few verifiable relationships with institutions where it isn’t personal or familial relations.

Heath mentioned this but it begs revisit: one of the establishing identifications he uses is a library card. I’ve said this before but what if our library patron databases represented what our patrons know to be true about themselves and their community? Not a grouping of location, birth date, honorific and circulation history, verifiable by authority for each person but something else entirely, which might only mean something to each one of us in our community. It would be meaningless information in the context of the workings of authority, but more representative of how we see ourselves and each other. What if we considered a radical openness, a jubilant rejection of the official shape of public identity by breaking the taxonomies of authority as a facet of our resistance? My image is captured but the connected data is just the lyrics to ‘Protect Ya Neck’? An epistemological rickroll?

We could spill over into other tick boxes and live larger than form fields can contain us. We will no longer live at *****, this place is now called ‘Cheapside Manor’. Deal with it. We will legally change our names and will have obscured our other particulars years ago but we will use our preferred names on leases and our nicknames on monogrammed sweaters from here on out. Our birth certificates have one gender and the town in which that was decided upon and our driver’s ID another; and when they dig us up from under our neon-fusion headstones in 1000 years, thanks to these friendly preservatives, they’ll stand around and still wonder who we are.
Ok, I’ll go to bed now.


Also, taking an art history approach to this piece, I’ve been thinking about the state identity as a representation of the body. Which, to me helps makes it clear why the actions of the police are so violent. An arrest record or incarceration is analogous to a permanent change to ones body that prevents abilities. Also, how the rich and powerful through obfuscation of their state identity and development of business identities get to have multiple beings with which to gain more advantages from their already privileged identity.


hey @alison is this lecture going to be uploaded on the recordings thread? i missed it!

I was thinking about this during the call too. Super exciting possibilities here. I wonder how one could promote this kind of toolkit safely, and also how you’d do some threat modeling with the person to help them understand the purposes of the kit and its limitations.

I LOVE THIS. Especially as a way to create “noise” on data broker websites. I wonder how easily we could seed this information out there by like, changing names on Facebook and on mailing lists and such.

So true.

What if? What do we lose by doing this? A physical location where we can send late fee notices (do we even need this?). What do we gain? All this possibility about seeing our community members in a way that maybe no one else sees them except for their closest people? It’s an exciting and radical prospect.

Such an interesting way to think about it and so true.

The LLC structure is multiple identity border crossing for those that can afford it!

Just added it!