The Rosemary Initiative

introduction | event structure | system architecture | bios



What are the affects of contemporary surveillance technologies on social interaction? How might they be re-circuited to enhance social connectivity and awareness within open societies?

The Rosemary Initiative probes conditions of social networks within panoptic environments. It explores influences of location mapping and analysis technologies on social interaction via a series of staged events.

In an age where terror attacks are broadcast live on global television networks, governments are scrambling to implement the next generation of surveillance techniques - often at the expense of constitutional rights to civil liberty. We are asked to exchange our right to personal privacy for a greater sense of collective security, with the underlying assurance that the system will work toward a greater social good.

To a certain extent, contemporary social networks can be described as an economy through which personal relations propagate, and within which identities form, cultures emerge and establish themselves, and eventually dissolve. Within this context, one’s social identity becomes (in part) a function of relations, defined by strong and weak ties explicitly established by an individual or inferred through a history of transactions.

Identification resulting from contemporary data-mining operations always requires an interpretive process (at times an algorithm, at others a field officer in an organization with an agenda) by which relations are established and connections are made. History is shot-through with dilemmas arising out of interpretive errors.

While it is easy to see how these technologies can weave a complicated web of cause and effect, it is not easy to predict how this movement toward accepting lesser privacy for more *security* will actually affect the dynamics of our society. Fear and paranoia are two emotions that seem to be the obvious results – but are these the only possible reactions?

The Rosemary Initiative seeks to explore this question by positing alternate deployments for these technologies. Investigating low-tech solutions for high-tech dilemmas, it proceeds through an iterative process and posits a variable event structure as a vehicle to both explore and develop technologies that seek to enhance social connectivity and awareness rather than control it.