MDOCS Forum - Performing Surveillance Gallery Talk and Performances

Friday, June 8, 2018
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
Tang Teaching Museum Payne
Event Type
Artist Talk

Prepare to be reoriented during this evening of artists and performers using the tools of surveillance to interrogate and play with governmental, technological, and medical surveillance.

This art installation is inspired by souvenirs decks of cards that were sold around ground zero within days of the attack on 9/11. One deck vilifies the Iraqi military. Another deck of cards called “Operation Iraqi Freedom, US Military Heroes” promoted the US military. Simulating airport security checkpoints SURVEILLANCE: Silence = Death looks at the history of Muslims in America, the emotional toll on Muslim Americans living under FBI and police surveillance, the expansion of legalized surveillance in Congress and in courts. “Are we safer now?”

Tami Gold is broadly recognized in the documentary field as a “pioneer” for her early work using handheld video tools to document social movements and advocate for community objectives. She has created more than 15 highly visible and critically acclaimed documentary films on a variety of topics at the center of public debate in the US and internationally, including women’s rights, public health, conditions for workers and labor organizing, violence and discrimination against LGBT people, police accountability and community relations, and the US relationship with South Africa. Her films have been in the most prestigious film festivals, including the Sundance, Tribeca and New York Film Festival, and have won many awards including the Audience Award at Tribeca. Her work has also been screened on public television’s premiere venue for independent documentary, POV, the PBS World Channel and on HBO. She is especially known for her expertise in grassroots distribution, and the use of media for advocacy and the expression of alternative viewpoints. Tami is a Full Professor with tenure at Hunter College, where she developed our video production curriculum in the 1990s, has led student exchanges to Cuba and South Africa, and has been a leader on many fronts including her recent work directing the James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism. Tami Gold is recipient of Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships and a Fullbright.

Sha Sha Feng combines the best of both the arts and technology to develop socially conscious media. She is a multimedia programmer and designer. Her work includes a range of experiments which integrate web based art and open source technologies. She has presented her work at various galleries and events including The Kitchen, Eyebeam, 3LD, Conflux, George Washington Carver Gallery and Staten Island Museum.  Sha Sha produces iArt (an interactive art show) with her students in the Department of Film & Media and the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College. She is also the co-founder of DIVAS (Digital Interactive Visual Arts Sciences) for Social Justice – a grassroots community organization that aims to bridge the digital divide and teach media literacy and cultural awareness in underserved communities.

Oversight Machines

Consider the dual meanings of oversight (supervision and the failure to notice) in a world in which media is increasingly made for and by machines. These images oversee (and overlook) public documents/metadata related to the US Intelligence Community, subjecting these collections to techniques from intelligence (signals intelligence, communications intelligence, and open source intelligence). These projects are exhibited as “work in progress”, what is shown is not the result of these processes of sense-making, but the work of sense-making itself.

Abram Stern’s work builds upon collections of government-produced media and metadata, revealing the material produced by public bureaucracies and the technologies that mediate its experience. His work has been exhibited at Real Art Ways, the Beall Center for Arts and Technology, Works|San Jose, the McDonough Museum of Art, New Langton Arts and various online fora and published in Information Polity. Abram is a PhD student in Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz.


OK Gurgle

A 15 minute performance piece that explores the complicated, scary, and error-filled relationships we have with our (increasingly capable) Digital Assistants… as well as the government spies and big data servers lurking behind them. Using music, comedy, live performance, projection mapping, and the seemingly innocuous techno surveillance tools we all carry everywhere, Alexis Powell and Candace Thompson will transform their own personal search data (and their terrible speech to text transcriptions) into a farcical commentary on surveillance.

Candace Thompson is a performer and interdisciplinary media maker fascinated with the feedback loops gene rated by place, culture, identity, climate, economics, and daily human interaction. She makes video, audio, web projects, and ritualistic installations– both IRL and online—that examine and challenge the truths we purportedly hold to be self-evident. Perhaps they aren’t so self-evident after all. As a freelance video producer and editor Candace has made music videos, documentaries and experimental narratives. As a performer she has worked in music, theatre, voiceover, and television, most recently on the second season of HBO’s High Maintenance, and with artist Pablo Helguera at such venues as BAM and the Guggenheim. Her project The National Registry of White Men– a response to 45’s proposed Muslim registry– was featured on HuffPo, Fox News, AV Club, Dazed, and Bustle. She is currently receiving her MFA in Integrated Media Art from Hunter College and spending her morning dog walks attempting to make eye contact with and verbally greet every single person she passes… a task which is much harder than you’d expect.

Alexis Powell is a NYC-based performer and interdisciplinary artist. She has performed several original works with her ensemble, Hearsay & Hyperbole (Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Union Docs, Provincetown Playhouse, Dixon Place, AUNTS, New Museum). She holds an M.A. in drama therapy from New York University, and recently premiered an arts-based research performance exploring Queerness written with playwright Jess Barbagallo called “Not For Resale”.

Uterine Concert Hall

“Uterine Concert Hall” is a vaginal media project that features my uterus as the scene of the performance and the instrument of its production. In this work, my vaginal canal acts as the stage with my cervix as the proscenium for the audience of my uterus. Equipped with a 54khz internal speaker (Babypod™) that rests in my vagina, my uterus is exposed to sound. Intimacy as a method of connecting with my audience is central to my performance practice. In Uterine Concert Hall, sound shapes the body. Uterine Concert Hall invites external guests (everyone who is not me) to perform for the audience of my uterus. Karaoke, academic paper presentation excerpts, poetry, and spoken word are just a few of the formats that are encouraged. The catch is that only my uterus experiences the full volume effects of the work. For example, a karaoke performance of Martha and the Muffins’ classic “Echo Beach” would allow both my uterine audience via speaker, and the performer via headphone, to hear the musical accompaniment and resulting sound mix, but other audience members (everyone who is not the venue or the performer) would only hear the performer. Think of it as isolating the vocal track for everyone who isn’t my uterus.” – Dayna McLeod

Dayna McLeod is a performance and video artist living in Montreal. Her work uses humour, and capitalizes on exploiting the body’s social and material conditions using cabaret, duration, single channel video, and installation practices. Dayna is PhD candidate at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Humanities that combines studies in performance art, feminism, queer theory, age, and research-creation practices. Dayna’s dissertation research examines how over-40 feminist performance artists use the body (their own or bodies-for-hire) within their practices and work in relationship to mainstream mass culture. As part of this research, McLeod embarked on a one-year durational performance piece that investigated and lived the stereotypes of a ‘cougar,’ a woman over-40 who aggressively demonstrates her sexuality, by wearing nothing but animal print clothing, 24/7 (archived at:

This event is part of the MDOCS Forum - a series of public events combining festival presentations of artistic work with symposium-style conversations around an annual theme. The symposium is free and open to the public.

This year, we will engage with the theme Surveil/Surveilled in documentary and analyze documentary as a form of surveillance, consider the ethics and legalities of observing and the vulnerability of being observed, learn how to protect from surveillance, and engage with the documentary material that surveillance systems yield to explore its storytelling and truth telling potentials. 

For a full list of MDOCS Forum events click HERE

playing cards with difference "warning and pictures on them
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