Lara Blazic and the data union

Auteur
Pieter-Jan Oddens

Larisa Blazic is a London-based artist, feminist hacker and educator. She was born in Serbia, and studied architecture and video art during the early nineties. She is an artist for more than 20 years and aims to work together with communities, to empower people and give them a political voice through technology and art. As artist in residence for the DECODE project, she's developing an artistic intervention based on the principles of a union.

Larisa's ideas of connecting and empowering people by using the positive vibe of the early days of the internet started in the nineties during the Yugoslav Wars. In that period people needed new ways to connect, and she helped forming creative and self-organized communities. Mobile communities with strong political awareness using modern technology was the goal, because it gave hope and a sense of freedom.

Within the public programme of Waag, Larisa gives a number of workshops in 2019. We interviewed her on one of these occasions.

What is the idea and goal of the workshop?

Larisa likes to open up software for public scrutiny, and thus making technology accessible. She uses her knowledge of new technologies, coding and artistic practice to teach small groups of people to be more aware of the value of data and taking a activist stand against governments and companies that misuse data. By empowering people, she gives them alternatives and teaches them to be critical at their data production and ownership. By making a joint effort during the workshop the outcome results in community artwork.

What can people learn from the workshop?

People learn about blockchain, smart contracts and data commons with accurate understanding and clarity. They learn to be part of network, how to organize themselves and how to negotiate their rights. The workshop focusses on the potential of a collectively defined smart contract. Within the blockchain framework, a smart contract can be a tool for self organizing collective data rights. The potential is such that combined with the concepts of data commons a smart contract could help the transition to a meaningful social change, stimulating individual and social well-being.

What do you hope to accomplish with this series of workshops?

Larisa hopes to accomplish more collective action regarding data, because defending and managing your own data is very important. We need a democratic response to the social, economic, and cultural implications of mass scale data harvesting. The value of that data is in the interests of democracy, equality and justice. These workshops are an interesting operation, in which experimenting and discovering the possibilities of new technology play a big part. With the collectively gained output Larisa will create a bigger artwork, but how this will look like is not fully clear yet!

Video report

A first video mid-term report of the 'Data Union Fork' residency has been made by Ilze Black.

Mid-term report for Data Union Fork: Tools for data strike work by Larisa Blazic with the support of the STARTS Residencies Project as part of the STARTS initiative of the European Commission, based on technological elements from DECODE, with the support of Waag.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 732546.

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About the author

  • Pieter-Jan Oddens worked at Waag as a freelance marketing and communications employee.