Caught by Alexandra Gorczynski

With the expansion of a surveillance state, government powers claim an increased right to the minutiae of our lives in their quest to curate and craft their own narratives. Simultaneously, those forces possess the same omnipotence in decisions around our contemporary prison system.

While the government claims the right to monitor all citizens as potential criminals, they lack the ability to monitor those convicted and in their care. Once individuals have been removed from society and placed into a physically enclosed space (theoretically, though not always in practice, run by the government), these powers demonstrate, quite practically, the limits of their powers. People are lost, maimed, neglected, and die every day in prison.

Throughout the month of September, NewHive will be exploring these themes in a two-week series of commissioned artworks and editorial pieces.

We’re also inviting artists to submit work that questions government authority and power over our privacy, both in and out of the prison system. Where do the walls of that system actually begin? What are the limits to the ideal of “freedom” in a heavily-surveilled age? How can the emergence of citizen surveillance influence our perceptions of justice?

Using NewHive’s multimedia publishing platform, artists are encouraged to design pages with original text, animations, audio, and videos, or make use of NewHive’s code editor to build a page from scratch.

Each of the top eight selections will receive $500 and will be featured on the NewHive blog and across other media. Artwork will be reviewed based both on aesthetic merits, as well as its depth of exploration of ideas in this call. Submissions will be accepted through September 28th and winners will be announced in early October. Save your artwork with the tag #privandprison for consideration.

It should be said that history has always been dictated by those in power. Yet in our current times, the curation of the official record is now being challenged by non-“official” individuals en masse thanks to smartphones and social media. Now, more than ever, we are seeing an emergence of citizen journalism and dissident art: particularly in regards to police brutality and the criminal justice system.

A growing body of evidence and consciousness is now being captured, shared, developed, and discussed, offering everyday people the ability to write history as never before. The existing power structures don’t want citizen surveillance–surveillance over the surveyors–for these very reasons. Yet whoever possesses the tools of surveillance holds the power. NewHive seeks to contribute to this ongoing narrative, and amplify new voices in its construction.

Special thanks to Muckrock for their support in the creation of this call, and for providing access to data surrounding prison reform and surveillance for the artists.