We want to make sure the general audience, politicians and policymakers are aware of the digital challenges of our time. We want big tech companies to be regulated, curb their power, and protect our digital rights. What role should governments play, and how can we make them understand the urgency to act? What can we as concerned citizens, researchers, and artists do to support this process?

In CODE, artists and non-artists work together on projects that address these issues and bring them to a wider audience. On this web project, we present the results from this collaboration, and we ask politicians to respond to the issues raised by the CODE participants. We also question them about their own responsibilities to address our lack of digital agency.

On The exactitude of maps

An investigation of the ownership of spatial data, through the shape of an audio-based interactive tour guide.

 

VOICES

An installation that explores the identification, control, and personalization of our voice and hearing in the highly curated digital public space.

 

clickedy.click

Tracking for Love

A provocative social experiment that aims to address the issue of non-consensual, intransparent online user tracking, by exposing this technology through a dating platform.

 

Ansible

An artistic research project focusing on the recent and ongoing debates surrounding the rollout of the 5G network across Europe.

 

BUG

An art installation in public space, that reflects critically reflect on the digital agency and digital kinship of all critters

 

Pay with your Gaze

A critical exploration of the use of eye tracking technolgy and nudging strategies by big tech companies.

 

cybi0nt

Decoding the Mutations of Truth

An interactive art installation exploring the alarming societal impact of post-truth, through the metaphor of gene mutations.

My virtual mermaid

Natural Field Recordings

An auditive performance and art project, which focuses on our relation to signals, notifications, and alarms through the use of sampling, distortion, and mixing techniques.

Apeiron

An artistic application that analyses the ways in which we work with information and data through the use of AI technology and biology.

Core themes

Information about Lobbying

One of the key themes addressed in CODE 2022 is lobbying, especially the kind of lobbying done by players in the big tech industry. According to an article by digital rights organisation Bits of Freedom, “75% of the European Commission’s discussions about the new big-tech rules are with industry lobbyists.” This was also apparent in the development of the digital markets act (DMA) and the digital services act (DSA). DSMA UnLtd. Is a project developed during CODE 2022 which comments on these issues, by presenting themselves as an organisation which offers changes to legislation for money. Through their project, the issue of big tech lobbyists becomes very apparent, and below is a short clip in which Lisa van Ginneken (D66) responds to these issues.

Interview Clip: Lisa van Ginneken

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“What you see is that organisations who have a lot of money, can make sure to get information across. Smaller organisations that mostly rely on volunteers, but could otherwise have a very important vision regarding these issues, have a lot less opportunities.”

CODE 2022 Project: Atlas of ID

Tips CODE Team

Privacy Tools
Privacy Tools Guide

TACTICALTECH

Tacticaltech

Search Engine

Duckduckgo
Startpage

Information about Data Representation

One of the central issues discussed among participants was data representation of citizens, both nationally and on a European level. A lot of the artificial intelligence systems used by governing entities make use of training data, which is often biased and not necessarily representative of reality. The fact that this coloured data is used to train the systems used for decision making about citizens, is very problematic. Atlas of ID was developed during CODE 2022 to address these issues, by inviting people to question the use of citizen data by the European Union. Below is a clip in which Renske Leijten (SP) discusses her critical views on the use of citizen data for training algorithms.

Interview Clip: Renske Leijten

Dutch member of parliament (SP)

“I think it’s smart to say that we should stop all algorithmic decision making within the government, both on a national and a local level.”

Information about AI Bots & Agents

One of the key themes of CODE 2022 is the use of artificial intelligence bots and agents. These AI bots are often used by companies to cut staff costs for things like helpdesks. People also use AI bots to try to sway public opinion on important topics, by having bots create fake social media accounts and having them post content that confirms whatever political narrative they try to spread. It becomes increasingly more difficult to separate bot accounts from humans, which CODE 2022 project HeLi-Ai playfully addresses by highlighting potential ways AI bots could define our future. Below, Renske Leijten (SP) discusses how the government can play a role in making sure this situation does not get out of hand.

Interview Clip: Renske Leijten

Dutch member of parliament (SP)

“Creating, often bot-driven, anonymous accounts solely to change the discourse, that’s something for which you should hold platforms accountable.”

CODE 2022 Project: Logging into Identity

Information about Online Identity

A key theme which came up during discussions between CODE 2022 participants, was the issue of online identity in relation to the use of social media platforms. The design of various platforms stimulates very different types of behaving oneself online. The way we frame ourselves online, and interact with others, is shaped by the options these platforms give us. Logging Into Identity was developed within CODE 2022 to address the various different types of emotional attachment users can have to their platforms. Below is a clip in which Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz (D66) describes her love-hate relationship with Twitter.

Interview Clip: Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. I get a lot of hate messages, but I block liberally.”

Tips CODE Team

Information about Facial Recognition & Surveillance

The theme of surveillance, specifically that of facial recognition, came up during multiple debates by CODE 2022 participants. It was mainly discussed because this technology can be used to track people in public space and threaten privacy. Governments make the argument that camera surveillance improves safety, but they fail to acknowledge that privacy is often a crucial part of safety. Physio·gnomy was developed during CODE 2022 to address the issue that citizens can no longer choose when they want to remain anonymous. Below is a clip which showcases how Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz (D66) reacts to our question about surveillance.

Interview Clip: Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“Security cameras, that is one thing where we really differed in political opinion. The majority believes in the false contrast between safety and privacy. We think that safety of course can’t exist without privacy.”

Information about Big Tech Regulation

The theme of big tech regulation is somewhat of an overarching theme, which most projects of CODE 2022 touched upon. Because big tech companies are so deeply embedded into the internet and society, they have immense power in their hands. They are able to profit off their massive user bases, who have little choice but to use these platforms, due to the fact that their services are deeply rooted in people’s daily lives. We feel that the most impactful way of dealing with these issues is to build strong regulatory frameworks to alter the current power structure and business models employed by big tech companies. In our interviews with politicians we asked them about what they feel should be done to regulate big tech, and here you can view the answers of Lisa van Ginneken (D66) and Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz (D66).

Interview Clip: Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“We should label Big Tech algorithms as high risk, because when it comes to categorisation they are considered low risk, from what I understand, because it’s “only” newsfeeds. This means there is no regulation at all.”

Interview Clip: Lisa van Ginneken

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“The user must be able to trust that things are going well and the government has its duties to monitor and regulate this for the users.”

Renske Leijten

Dutch member of parliament (SP)

“I think it’s smart to say that we should stop all algorithmic decision making within the government, both on a national and a local level.”

Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“Threatening somebody with death or something else is illegal, it’s illegal in the streets and needs to be illegal on Twitter.”

Lisa Van Ginneken

Dutch member of parliament (D66)

“If we look at social media companies, they determine for a large part how we shape our conversations in our society. They also very much determine what information comes to us and we now know that they do not do so neutrally.”

about Code

CODE seeks to bring together artists, non-artists, politicians, policymakers and researchers from Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands to engage in dialogue, critical discussion, and artistic intervention. CODE does not refer to coding, instead it focuses on the code of digital ethics. With this project, we are trying to influence public policy on a national and international level, by creating awareness for issues at hand, and by defining ways in which we can improve laws and legislation that will protect us as digital citizens and consumers. We want to inspire and facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations which hopefully have the potential to catalyse systemic change. 

CODE 2023 is the third edition of CODE, and is organised by IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture] together with Werktank (Leuven), Privacy Salon/Privacytopia (Brussels) and transmediale (Berlin). 

CODE 2023 started with a call for applicants. Selected participants had the opportunity to work closely together over a period of six months in a co-creation process consisting of a series of events: three workshops, a hackathon, various presentations at inspiring festivals, and an online exhibition. In this period, we developed projects, interventions and awareness campaigns to expose the power of tech companies and to activate politicians, policymakers and citizens to take action. During development, participants were guided by professional mentors to aid the creation of their works. These were digital artist Rosa Menkman, art curator Régine Debatty, activist Hacker Denis “Jaromil” Roio and curator Camilla Colombo. 

What you are looking at right now is the online exhibition of CODE’s outcomes. This website serves as a way to document the different projects that were developed over the course of the entire programme, which started in 2021, and is currently still ongoing.

The interviews with politicians are a core part of this online exhibition, since these are ultimately the people we need to inspire to make changes to public policy and law. These interviews show how various politicians view the issues raised by the projects, and how they feel these issues could be addressed. We hope that by helping people create critical art on issues in the digital realm, we can catalyse changes within public and political awareness. 

CODE 2023 is made possible thanks to the kind support of the gemeente Utrecht, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, the Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie and the Fonds Soziokultur.

IMPAKT

Curator Arjon Dunnewind
Project Coordinator Timo Meilof
Project Producer Philine Kreuzer
Research & Production Assistants Menno Bots & Esther van Zoelen

transmediale

Curator Nora O Murchú

Privacy Salon

Project Curator Thierry Vandenbussche
Project Coordinator Tabea Wagner

Werktank

Project Curators Anouk Focquier & Kurt d’Haeseleer
Project Coordinator Laureline Soubry

CODE Mentors

IMPAKT

Curator Arjon Dunnewind
Project Coordinator Timo Meilof
Web Project Coordinator Jeroen Witjes
Web Project Development Kevin Hui
Videography Remko Dekker
Video editing Timo Meilof & Jeroen Witjes
Subtitles Jeroen Witjes
Research & Production Assistants Jacoline Maes & Sophia Zwaveling

School of Machines, Making & Make Believe

Curator Rachel Uwa
Project Coordinator Jennifer Jiang
Design Rita Eperjesi

Privacy Salon

Project Coordinator Thierry Vandenbussche

Werktank

Project Coordination Anouk Focquier
Kurt d’Haeseleer
Leen van den Ende

CODE Mentors

IMPAKT

Curator Arjon Dunnewind
Financial Management Froukje van Dooren
Coordinator Jeroen Witjes
PR & Communication Michelle Franke
Production Web Project Magdalena Klein
Production Assistants Anke Verbeek & Montse Pujol Sola

School of Machines, Making & Make Believe

Curator Rachel Uwa
Project Advisor Michele Walther
PR & Communication Michelle Lai & Michelle O’Higgins
Design Rita Eperjesi