Master's Thesis: Digital Witness
Book, Info & Web Design, Motion Graphics, Exhibition Design
The lack of clarity regarding internet surveillance and data collection has allowed these actions to become normalized or ignored. The intention of my thesis project was to challenge this normalization by exploring the concept of a transparent digital space — a space that reveals, educates, and encourages the user to question this invasion of privacy and examine the true cost of the internet.
Part 01: Print Design
The first element of my thesis project was a printed book. The design and content of the book are inspired by a dossier — a collection of documents about a particular person, event or subject. I took pages and pages of data that has been collected about me through various websites and social media, and transformed some of this data into more accessible forms. For instance, I created a heat map using all of my locations that were tracked by my phone throughout a semester. I chose to create a printed book to display this information because I wanted to convert something digital, and seemingly invisible, into something tangible, physical, and undeniable. By doing this, I intended to provide viewers with a more transparent view of the vast extent of online surveillance.
Part 02: Web and Information Design
Through my research, I collected information about specific examples of companies that were caught taking advantage of user data without user consent or knowledge. I created a website that provided summaries and facts about a few of these instances. During our Thesis Show, an Ipad displaying this website was mounted on the wall and users were encouraged to scroll through the site.
Part 03: Motion Graphics
Using six people and six different camera shots, this video is intended to play up the unsettling feeling of being secretly watched or monitored. As a viewer, you are intended to feel as if you are the one spying on these people, invading their privacy, while learning more about them.
Part 04: Exhibition Design
At the end of the semester, we had an MFA Thesis Show to showcase our work. The book, posters of scaled up elements from the book, and an Ipad looping my video were displayed on two retail grids. I decided to use retail grids because it was a reference to how our data is collected and sold for profit by data brokers. Next to this display, I mounted an Ipad that viewers could interact with, and a camera and generic signs that intended to make the viewer feel like they were being watched.