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Session Overview
Install4: Installations: Museum of Forbidden Technologies
Friday, 26/Jul/2019:
9:00am - 4:00pm

Location: Salon 6, Grand Ballroom, Marriott City Center
The presenter(s) will be available from 1 pm- 3 pm to answer questions about this installation.

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Museum of Forbidden Technologies

Emily Esten

N/A, United States of America

In the bimonthly podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a small desert community experiences a world where every conspiracy theory is true. From the Sheriff's Secret Police to mysterious lights in the night sky, the constant surveillance in the town is an absurd perspective of our own. One of several town attractions in the podcast, The Museum of Forbidden Technologies is a museum featuring numerous exhibits, all of which are covered in thick burlap at all times, with explanatory plaques completely blacked out with permanent marker. The exhibits—featuring time machines, lie detectors, and pollution-free energy—declare both what is forbidden to Night Vale residents & how they may experience them (which is to say, not at all).

As a one-day installation during ACH 2019, this submission intends to bring a pop-up Museum of Forbidden technologies for participants to experience. This small, one-room installation—part-fan culture celebration, part-public humanities project, part-surveillance studies intervention—visitors will consider the "forbidden technologies" within our real world. True to the Night Vale experience, it may take more effort to be able to view these objects and learn more about them. But true to ACH, a participatory intervention into the exhibit will help make a strong contribution to challenging the ethics and questions of our field. Participating in a one-of-a-kind experience, museum visitors will use this time to address complex themes around agency, detection, and technology.

These objects—such as the Drone Warriors' technology at Standing Rock, anti-surveillance facial camouflage, and community ordinances for community input and oversight over use of surveillance technologies – highlight efforts to counteract the unethical physical and digital surveillance methods at work in the world around us. Exhibit labels will address the histories of these objects & how they found their way into the museum. This installation has three goals for visitors: examine the way communities address and respond to surveillance; contemplate the language of "forbidden" and "technology"; and consider the role of science and technology museums in exploring this dilemma.

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