If you upload your picture on the website mask.id, you can fuse with another person's picture and receive a newly created portrait, which could be you - or somebody else! It is a little bit hard to explain, check it out yourself, the idea is really interesting. Because it is a new form of protest. It is the denial of obedience and a statement to open the border: Goal of this project of the German art collective is to send false passports to Libya, with these fused pictures. Till now, it was only a very popular art production but it could be a very distortive medium in the political system.
Our biometric data is unique, and for the application of an ID-card or a passport, we need to give our fingerprints and our facial recognition data. But not only when you apply: Cameras follow us all the time, at train stations, in shops or in public places. We get our ID-cards checked, we have to proof our identities and this all goes in governmental databases. It is a huge amount of data, plus all the data we leave as digital foot prints, the data what we buy and where we are.
It sounds all very much like conspiracy theories, but it is something very obvious: We produce a lot of data, we are traceable and there are people who have an interest in these data. It might be to protect you, to sell you stuff, but also to surveil you and to control. There has been a mayor scandal recently, Facebook has leaked millions of personal data, which was used for political campaigning and polemical propaganda especially in the US, but the internet and the scope of this data knows no limit. It was a huge thing, Facebook-Founder Mark Zuckerberg even had to defend himself and the company at the European Court - But in public, it nearly went by unheard of.
So we already can directly see, how our data is used, how it is traded among big companies and governments. The justification is always the reason of security: It is the old dilemma of freedom versus security. And indeed, it is important to protect citizen and to prevent crime, but in the end, personal freedoms are the most valuable, according to my opinion. Our personal freedoms, specially the one about free though and free expression, are the basis of our modern democracies. If they cannot be guaranteed, there is no legitimation of democracy anymore, the government becomes authoritarian and oppressive.
This is why I would strongly argue for the protection of our freedom. And we should never forget: We as the citizens are the control medium of the states, we are electing but also controlling our governments, who are supposed to act in our will. Therefore, we need to be critical and to question what is happening, and of course, there is a danger: What the Peng!-Collective does, and other civilian actors, whistleblowers for example, is illegal. If you create this fake picture and use it, it might cause you a lot of trouble. Also sending passports to Libya can be considered a crime. There is a certain danger, if we are resistant, but I believe the danger are much higher when we don’t.
The young generation in Germany is very active and creative when it comes to civil disobedience, I was also fascinated by the passionate fight for the „Hambacher Wald“, a big forest in the west of Germany. Sometimes we have to articulate our will and to fight for it against the interests of big cooperates or the power calculation of governments. These are the rough times of democracy, and right in these times, it is very important to stand for the values of democracy.
Art can be an expression of civil disobedience, it is creative, funny and clever, it attracts a lot of attention. So does the fake passport of the Peng!-Collective, which shows one of her members, but also Federica Mogherini, the EU commissioner for foreign affairs and security policy. This action aims to show especially her, but also the whole European community, the urgency and the necessity of humanitarian aid in Libya, and the creation of safe ways to seek for asylum.
A good lecture about civil disobedience: Henry David Thoreau (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Disobedience_(Thoreau))
The perfect soundtrack: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/arts/music/calle-13-prepares-new-album-multiviral.html
The Peng!-Collective and his super cool projects: https://pen.gg