Allison Young, assistant professor of contemporary art history, was a juror on UC Berkeley’s 2023 Cybersecurity Arts Contest, which highlights the issue of cybersecurity through art. Read more.
The primary goal of the Cybersecurity Arts Contest is to expand representations of cybersecurity, broadly defined, through artistic expression and public dialogue, according to Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. Following a review by the independent and interdisciplinary panel of judges, three projects were selected based on their artistic merit, relevance, and potential impact. Young’s fellow judges were Mayola Charles (Lead, Social Impact Creator Partnerships, Meta) and Martin Rauchbauer (Executive Director, Djerassi Resident Artists Program & Founder, Tech Diplomacy Network).
“I have served as a juror for arts competitions before, but I was interested in this opportunity because of its timely and very contemporary theme,” Young said. She is an art historian at the LSU School of Art, and is an affiliate faculty member in the LSU department of African and African American Studies.
“The issue of cybersecurity isn’t necessarily an ‘art world’ buzzword yet, but it is nonetheless one that is extremely relevant to all of our lives today, in ways that can sometimes be difficult to wrap our minds around,” Young said. “As such, contemporary art can provide more personal or empathetic entry points into seemingly abstract concepts like surveillance, security, digital vulnerability, and online identities, in ways that can spark the viewer’s curiosity and imagination.”
“I was intrigued by the questions put forth by the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, which include prompts such as: ‘Whom does security affect?’ and ‘What are new ways of representing the human impacts of security’s failures?’ These allow us to imagine the subject of cybersecurity on a human scale.”
“Another thing that really excited me about this opportunity was the chance to collaborate with individuals outside of the art and creative industries,” she said. “The other members of the jury had expertise in fields such as social media and technological diplomacy, and I learned so much from them during this process. It also reaffirmed my belief that art can have a powerful impact even across the spheres typically associated with STEM, communications, or the social sciences.”
“Art can have a powerful impact even across the spheres typically associated with STEM, communications, or the social sciences.”
The submissions were extremely wide-ranging, and addressed cybersecurity both from the macroscopic level of global politics, and from the intimate scale of our individual lives and experiences. The three winning artists utilized a range of techniques – from game design to a digital spin on portraiture. For instance, the art collective Seeyam created an animated simulation in which the narrative touched on matters such as social media activism and online censorship, while Kyle McDonald’s interactive game considered the future risks of facial analysis and machine learning technologies, if they continue to encroach on our everyday lives.