Behind the Smart World publication

Book: Behind the Smart World – saving, deleting and resurfacing of data
as part of the AMRO Research Lab 2015

edited by: – Linda Kronman, Andreas Zingerle
published by: | process coordinator: Us(c)hi Reiter
layout by:

The publication is available both analog as a printed book and digital in form of a pdf, an epub and a web version.


Us(c)hi Reiter/ Foreword
KairUs: Introduction
Fieke Jansen: If not us, who stores and owns our data?
Ivar Veermae : Center of Doubt
Emilio Vavarella: The Google Trilogy
Leo Selvaggio: Surveillance, McLuhan and the Social Prosthesis
Marloes de Valk: What remains? The way we save ourselves
Research Team “Times of Waste”: TIMES OF WASTE
Interview with Audrey Samson : Digital Data Funerals
Stefan Tiefengraber: Technology-based Art and Destruction
Dr. Michael Sonntag: Third Person Data
KairUs: Artistic strategies for dealing with resurfacing data
Interview with Michaela Lakova: Deleted file information is like a fossil…
KairUs: Strategies Against Phishing and Fake Business Websites


Ctrl S / Cmd S, saving our data used to be a conscious act, and we still use this key combination relatively often. In addition to this our data is increasingly saved whit out us realizing it. Programs have auto save functions, in the cloud the save button is obsolete and increasingly our behavior is tracked and saved by others. In the contemporary Internet what does saving data mean? In which ways is our data collected and saved? Are there any chances for us to know who is collecting our data, where it is saved and what it is used for? In this part we wish to gather activist/artistic strategies to resist or reveal undesired data collection.


While the cloud suggests immateriality we all know that our data is saved on physical drives somewhere in huge data centers. But what are our chances to delete data that once has entered the cloud in other words what ownership do we have of this data? What happens with our data e.g. when we die or is it ours anymore? Our electronic gadgets die as well, or they become obsolete? The gadgets often linger in our homes; they get recycled or end up as illegal electronic waste often dumped in developing countries. Is the data still on them accessible? The hard-drives in data-centers run obsolete as well, yet they cannot afford data breaches. From old hard-drives the only 100% effective way to delete data is to physically destroy it. There are strategies to recover data from hard-drives even if the data was ones deleted. A part of data management is the deletion of data and companies can e.g. hire trucks with hard-drive shredders to destroy electronics and data on them. In this part we want to bring forth artistic strategies to destroy data or make it inaccessible.


We live in a time when everything is saved and this data is very hard to delete. Do we make efforts to delete the data on an old mobile phone before we hand it in for recycling, what about a old computer hard-drive, one that we might not be able to start any more. What if we deleted the data from the hard-drive, but it is not actually deleted. When our electronics get obsolete they start a journey as e-waste. They might be repaired for re-use but eventually they end up at a e-waste recycling facility or maybe dumped illegally on a e-waste dump in Ghana. How well dose data persist this journey? What can be found from 22 hard-drives collected from the one of the biggest e-waste dump in the world? What data resurfaces? Can it be used or abused?