Artist Interview: Mirjam Mengershausen

Updated: 15 hours ago

What is the value of the human face?


The value of the human face is its uniqueness and its ability to express emotions through non-verbal communication clues. Well interpreted or read it might even reveal our identity. Faces have become our new fingerprints, invaluable to those relentlessly seeking information/data.


How do you see the boundaries of protection and fashion blurring as we continue to progress into an era of surveillance?

One of the first functions of fashion is protection and our understanding of protection is constantly shifting. I think there will be two, only sometimes overlapping movements fashion will see in reacting to evermore sophisticated surveillance. One will take a serious high-tech route, battling every aspect of this evolving technology, something blending fashion with defensive electronic weaponry devices into a new kind of hybrid „sportswear“. The other movement I see is going to use fashion as a political tool, an anti-surveillance statement integrating a lot of blunt humorous elements to speak out as human beings, surrendering on the tech front and in disguise.


Why does the world need to be informed about surveillance technology?


The world needs to be informed about surveillance technology to raise awareness about the potential misuse of information. To showcase clearly, that surveillance needs very strong democratic control. We have to be able to differentiate in which way surveillance can protect us from, for example, terror attacks or is misused to gain increased access to our personal lives. If nobody knows how these algorithms work and what they do, if nobody cares, our faces become a burden. We need complete transparency of existing technologies and public access to all data collected.


Do you think anti-surveillance fashion will be a staple in every wardrobe in 2050?

I don´t hope anti-surveillance fashion will be a staple in every wardrobe in 2050. If we continue without restrictions it’s going to become a battle between fashion and anti-surveillance-fashion-bans.


Either we will have proceeded towards a totalitarian surveillance state or we found a transparent way of regulating the use of our personal data and a transparent set of guidelines for states on how to use surveillance technologies. I don’t think there is much in between.



Glossary


Anti-surveillance fashion- anti-surveillance fashion designers take surveillance technology (CCTV, facial recognition) into account in their designs. Reflective materials, patterns, different hair and make up techniques can be used to fool surveillance technology by scrambling the markers they rely on to identify the wearer’s face.



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