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RECRUITMENT
GONE WRONG
 
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In July 2013, a National Security Agency (NSA) recruitment drive held in Wisconsin University was derailed by students, who took the two recruiters to task over lies told by the agency as revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden data leak. A few days later, an audio recording of this exchange was released by The Guardian newspaper.

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Recruitment Gone Wrong reenacts this exchange by animating each of its four main characters through the automation of four ventriloquists’ half-masks. Unlike conventional ventriloquists’ dummies, half-masks can be worn by an individual, transforming a person into a comical ‘living’ dummy, and so although each mask will be moving according to its assigned character even when suspended in the gallery space, a visitor or group of visitors can choose to wear any of them at prescribed times, thus channeling the words of the students and/or recruiters through their own (cyborg) bodies.

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We think of Recruitment Gone Wrong as an automated mechanical reenactment and a kind of karaoke, constantly re-breathing life into a covert audio recording that touches on issues of our human rights to freedom of information and privacy in our contemporary world –issues that we think comprise part of the critical framework surrounding the need for Open Data, Open source culture and net neutrality. For us, this exchange between students and recruiters highlights a burgeoning culture, where we are encouraged to accept ubiquitous invasions of privacy for commercial and political gain as a ‘new normal.’

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