News Articles

Face-Scanning Tech Expanding in USA, EU

Fight against facial recognition hits wall across the West
The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition.

By JANOSCH DELCKER and CRISTIANO LIMA (POLITICO)
12/30/2019 05:03 AM EST

Face-scanning technology is inspiring a wave of privacy fears as the software creeps into every corner of life in the United States and Europe — at border crossings, on police vehicles and in stadiums, airports and high schools. But efforts to check its spread are hitting a wall of resistance on both sides of the Atlantic.

One big reason: Western governments are embracing this technology for their own use, valuing security and data collection over privacy and civil liberties. And in Washington, President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the death of a key civil rights and privacy champion have snarled expectations for a congressional drive to enact restrictions.

The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition, which they have sold to police agencies and embedded in consumers’ apps and smartphones. The stalemate has persisted even in Europe’s most privacy-minded countries, such as Germany, and despite a bipartisan U.S. alliance of civil-libertarian Democrats and Republicans.

Advocates for tighter regulations point to China as an example of the technology’s nightmare potential, amid reports authorities are using it to indiscriminately track citizens in public, identify pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and oppress millions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Current implementations of the software also perpetuate racial bias by misidentifying people of color far more frequently than white people, according to a U.S. government study released just before Congress left town for Christmas.

“Facial recognition needs to be stopped before a fait accompli is established,” Patrick Breyer, a member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party Germany, told POLITICO.

"The use of facial recognition technology poses a staggering threat to Americans’ privacy," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is prepping legislation to crack down on the software, said in June.

Banksy Collaborator Steve Lazarides Tells (Almost) All


'We were lawless!' Banksy's photographer reveals their scams and scrapes

Steve Lazarides was the art renegade’s strategist, photographer and minder. As his shots are published [in a self-published book], he recalls the politics, parties and soaring price tags of ‘Matey Boy’

Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)
Mon 16 Dec 2019 12.54 GMTLast modified on Mon 16 Dec 2019 16.50 GMT

One Christmas, Steve Lazarides and Banksy [his Stencil Archive] decided to kill Santa. “Reject false icons,” read the slogan hastily spray painted across their shopfront, behind a highly festive effigy they had created of Father Christmas dangling from a noose. Dotted around were signs intended to lure passersby into their shop, in the hope that they would join in the party and buy some artworks. The signs, however, may have had the opposite effect. “Santa’s Ghetto,” read one. “Stinking art piss,” read another.

“There were a few complaints about what we did to Santa,” says Lazarides, once Banksy’s right-hand man. “And about the noise. We didn’t care. It was a group show we did every year, so artists could make a little dough and punters could pick up some affordable art for Christmas stockings.”

Lazarides worked with Banksy for 11 rollercoaster years, initially documenting the artist at work back in 1997, then becoming his agent, strategist and even minder. The Christmas art shop had been rented from one of Soho’s last porn barons – but disaster struck. Liquid leaked through from the floor above, soaking an impromptu chandelier made of traffic cones. “I went to investigate,” says Lazarides. “It was a toilet overflowing. The crowd at the party thought it was part of the show. It wasn’t. It was literally stinking art piss.”

The art he and Banksy sold at Santa’s Ghetto was certainly affordable back in the noughties – but it could not be classified as such today. Lazarides recalls carrying armfuls of original Banksy prints to the shop, where they’d shift for £25. “At today’s rates,” he says, “I reckon each armful would be worth about half a million quid.”

One work, called Bomb Middle England, depicted three elderly women playing bowls with balls that had lit fuses coming out of them. In 2007, Sotheby’s sold a version of this image for £102,000, at the time the most ever fetched for a Banksy. It has since been eclipsed, with the title now held by the 2009 painting Devolved Parliament, which went for £8.5m earlier this year.

While Lazarides is happily reminiscing about the Santas of Christmases past, Banksy is on the streets of Birmingham making art about the scandals of Christmas present – in the form of his mural and video of two reindeer pulling, not Santa in his sleigh, but a homeless man called Ryan lying on a bench in the city’s jewellery quarter.

44,000 Year Old Cave Art, Including Hand Stencil, in Indonesia

Earliest known cave art by modern humans found in Indonesia
Pictures of human-like hunters and fleeing mammals dated to nearly 44,000 years old

Hannah Devlin (LINK)
Wed 11 Dec 2019 18.00 GMTLast modified on Wed 11 Dec 2019 18.12 GMT

Cave art depicting human-animal hybrid figures hunting warty pigs and dwarf buffaloes has been dated to nearly 44,000 years old, making it the earliest known cave art by our species.

The artwork in Indonesia is nearly twice as old as any previous hunting scene and provides unprecedented insights into the earliest storytelling and the emergence of modern human cognition.

Previously, images of this level of sophistication dated to about 20,000 years ago, with the oldest cave paintings believed to be more basic creations such as handprints.

“We were stunned by the implications of this image,” said Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University. “This was just mind-boggling because this showed us that this was possibly the oldest rock art anywhere on the face of this planet.”

The painting, discovered in 2017, is one of hundreds in South Sulawesi, including a red hand stencil, which was dated to at least 40,000 years ago. But the latest finding is exceptional as it is more than twice as old as any previously known narrative scenes and hints at ancient myths and an early capacity for imagination.

David King, Crass Symbol Designer, Dead at 71

David King, San Francisco Artist Who Designed Iconic Crass Emblem, Dies at 71
Sam Lefebvre Oct 22 (KQED)

David King, the San Francisco artist best known for designing the English punk band Crass’ iconic and widely reproduced anti-establishment emblem, died at home Thursday following a years-long fight with cancer, his frequent publisher Colpa Press confirmed to KQED. He was 71.

The English-born designer, photographer and musician, who moved to San Francisco in 1982, created what would become known as the Crass symbol—a stencil-friendly design incorporating a cross and what he called a “diagonal, negating serpent” with two heads—more than 40 years ago to criticize the mixture of church and state. He also participated in New York’s Downtown scene of the 1980s and the Mission School milieu the next decade in San Francisco.

The “explosive and memorable image” has “acquired a ubiquitous independence as a sign of protest,” design historian Steven Heller writes in a new book of King’s work. A popular tattoo, the symbol is perhaps rivaled only by Black Flag’s logo in subcultural prominence. It’s also been appropriated for commercial purposes, moving King in recent years to revisit the stark symbol in various publications and exhibitions with color and levity that better reflects his work’s tone.

“David’s iconic symbols were a badge of authenticity in the underground scenes across the globe in the pre-internet era, recognizable at 65 mph on the back of a squatter punk meandering down an alleyway at four in the morning,” writes the artist Barry McGee, who King met at the San Francisco Art Institute, in Gingko Press’ new David King Stencils. “What symbol has even come remotely close to so immediately showing one’s allegiance to an ideology or attitude?”

King, remembered for his poise and sharp dress, was born in the United Kingdom on April 10, 1948. In a 2013 interview with this writer, he described being attracted to the “riots” and “beacons” of color in commercial designs on comic books and candy wrapping amid the grey, post-war cityscape. Mod fashion of the 1960s was more to his liking, and King attended art school from 1964 to 1967.

In college King met the artists eventually known as Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher of Crass, afterwards working as a graphic designer. At the inception of punk, he gravitated towards stencils, subverting the militaristic style to promote peace. In 1977 at the communal Dial House near London, King encouraged Rimbaud to write down his criticisms of the state’s propagation of Christian values through public education, leading to the pamphlet Christ’s Reality Asylum.

Twitter Stencils Cause a... twitter (SF)

Twitter ad campaign runs afoul of city vandalism laws
EXAMINER STAFF; Sep. 12, 2019 4:45 a.m.; LINK with photos

Some BART riders have called a recent Twitter ad blitz around Powell Station “irritating” and “overkill,” but city officials are calling it illegal.

Or at least part of it.

The social media company launched an ad campaign this week in San Francisco and New York City that covered the walls of the station with images of user tweets about Twitter.

All well and good, if potentially annoying for some viewers, but the campaign continued outside with sidewalk chalk stencils extending into the Tenderloin — and that puts it in breach of The City’s vandalism laws, the Department of Public Works said Thursday.

“Our sidewalks are not to be used for commercial purposes, they are not billboards,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for DPW. “Any company that advertises on our sidewalks is breaking the law.”

Gordon said DPW will typically send crews out to remove the stencils and contact the person or company responsible to collect the cost of the cleanup.

“Our crews really should be focused on other areas, but we want to keep our sidewalks free of commercial content,” Gordon said.

A Twitter spokesperson on Thursday said the company’s media agency had “confirmed necessary approvals ahead of the chalk installation.”

“We haven’t been made aware of any legal issues related to the chalk. We will of course comply with any requests made by the city,” the spokesperson said.

Twitter is not the first company to run afoul of The City’s strict vandalism laws with sidewalk stencils.

Lyft, to give one recent example, drew legal action from City Attorney Dennis Herrera in 2015 after it stenciled ads on sidewalks across The City.

Broken Windows, Again?! Battle against taggers in SF, 2018 Recap

Battle against taggers makes its mark as San Francisco’s graffiti plague eases
SF Chron (LINK)
Evan Sernoffsky Jan. 4, 2019 Updated: Jan. 4, 2019 4 a.m.

They usually strike at night. Spray can in hand, they scrawl their crude tags on San Francisco’s historic brick facades, business windows and sidewalks.

And when morning reveals the destructive spree of graffiti, the vandals are usually long gone, leaving property owners with a stubborn cleanup job — possibly even a fine.

But thanks to an aggressive new strategy by police and prosecutors, such incidents of vandalism appear to be in decline, according to the latest numbers. Reports of graffiti to 311 have hit an all-time low since the city started tracking the data at the start of 2016.

There were 3,371 such calls in November compared with 7,611 reported during March, according to data provided by the district attorney’s office.

Chase's Pattern Park Debuts

Street Artist Chase Explores Light and Space as His Pattern Park Debuts
LILY MOAYERI | MARCH 30, 2018 | LA WEEKLY

The horror show that is parking in Los Angeles is legendary. And parking in West Hollywood takes the nightmare to a whole other level. But Pattern Park, the fourth and most recent of West Hollywood’s micro-parks, is a bright and colorful spot in this dismal landscape.

The park was designed and painted by renowned street artist Chase. His striking patterns, applied using spray paint, exterior latex paint and stencils, decorate the sidewalk surrounding the parking lot on the north side of Sunset Boulevard between Sherbourne Drive and Horn Avenue. Also benefiting from Chase’s instantly recognizable style is the parking booth inside the lot and the fence surrounding it, which is decorated with cutouts of Chase’s signature eye.

From Venice Beach to DTLA, from Ventura to Long Beach, many walls in the Southland feature Chase’s murals. Born and bred in Antwerp, Belgium, the 40-year-old Chase has lived in Los Angeles since the mid-’90s and he doesn’t take his adopted hometown’s acceptance of his art for granted. Over eggs Benedict at brunch al fresco in one of the Sunset Plaza restaurants just across the boulevard from Pattern Park, Chase — who sports an “LA” tattoo under his right ear — recalls his early days of trying to differentiate street art from graffiti for Los Angeles business owners.

“You didn’t used to see walls like you see now,” he says. “You saw some alley work behind Melrose or downtown back alleys. You saw some stuff from freeways. Venice had the tattoo shop and the graffiti walls, but I always thought the art was good enough to be on the main street.

SMiLE, it's good for you

SMiLE, it’s good for you
Boulder’s incognito street artist on a life of rebellion

By Emma Murray -  April 19, 2018

Emma Murray | Boulder Weekly

Ten minutes before I turn onto Pearl Street, my phone vibrates. A message: “I forgot to ask… Will you keep my identity a secret?”

I’m en route to a cafe, meeting the person responsible for the impressionist cats, portraits and landscapes sprinkled around Boulder’s downtown electrical boxes, alleyways and forgotten doors — like the tri-color tabby’s face that stares at me from a brick wall on 17th Street.

“Of course,” I reply. Inside, I order a coffee and scan the crowd. What does an incognito graffiti artist look like? Painted or dirty nails? Long hair, makeup? Grunge or hipster? Another vibration. “Look for a pair of sunglasses resting on the table,” he (which he may or may not be) tells me.

I walk toward the back of the room and spot them: The glossy lenses staring up from a two-top, flanked by an elbow on each side. One hand loosely cups a mug, the other rests flat on the table. The person is leaning forward, shoulders slightly rounded, gazing down as though examining the creamy chai’s layered design.

As I approach, he looks up. “You must be Emma,” he says.

So this is what a graffiti artist looks like. Not what I expected.More babysitter, less hoodlum. “You must be SMiLE,” I whisper as I sit down.

He glances around the room with fugitive eyes, nods, and we begin.

New Orleans Mural Sparks Constitutional Battle

Anti-Trump Mural Sparks ACLU Lawsuit and Public Art Dispute in New Orleans
Shortly after putting up a mural on his private property last year, Neal Morris received a letter from the city demanding its immediate removal and threatening jail time.
Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic

<< Cashy-D's anti-Trump mural in New Orleans (photo courtesy and © Neal Morris

Late last year, New Orleans developer Neal Morris commissioned the local artist Cashy-D to paint a mural on his private property. On November 4, the artist completed the piece, which features text from the 2005 Access Hollywood recording, in which President Trump boasts of sexually assaulting women. In the mural, select nouns have been replaced by images, like emojis in a text message.

Ten days later, Morris received a letter from the city’s Department of Safety and Permits faulting him for not following the proper permit process, demanding the mural’s removal, and threatening a “maximum fine or jail time for each and every day the violation continues plus court costs as prescribed by law.” Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Morris against the City of New Orleans, alleging that it has violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

“The ideal outcome is for the City to scrap its burdensome, confusing (and unconstitutional) permitting process for murals,” Bruce Hamilton, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Louisiana who is representing Morris, told Hyperallergic. “We don’t believe the government should get to decide what is art, which art is deserving of expression, and which art the public is allowed to see.”

H&M Lawsuit Against Street Artist Could Have Changed Copyright Law

H&M Lawsuit Against Street Artist Could Have Changed Copyright Law [UPDATED]
The clothing company claims it has dropped its lawsuit against the artist Revok after widespread outcry and calls for a boycott, though the artist’s lawyer claims that is not true.
Claire VoonMarch 15, 2018
Hyperallergic

Update, 3/15/2018, 4:30pm: According to the Daily Beast, H&M has withdrawn its lawsuit. It shared the following statement:

H&M respects the creativity and uniqueness of artists, no matter the medium. We should have acted differently in our approach to this matter. It was never our intention to set a precedent concerning public art or to influence the debate on the legality of street art.  As a result, we are withdrawing the complaint filed in court. We are currently reaching out directly to the artist in question to come up with a solution.

Update, 3/15/2018, 6:45pm: When reached by email, Revok’s lawyer said he was unaware of H&M’s decision to withdraw the lawsuit. “I don’t know what they are talking about and have not seen them make any public statement,” Gluck told Hyperallergic. “The lawsuit is not dismissed, and the artwork is even still being used on their website.”

We have reached out to H&M’s lawyers for clarification and will update when we hear back.

Update, 3/15/2018, 10:00pm: Revok’s attorney Jeff Gluck told Hyperallergic via email that he has spoken to the counsel for H&M, who told him that “that they are not in fact dismissing the lawsuit.” Hyperallergic has reached out to H&M’s attorneys and to the company’s PR department to confirm this but has received no response. Its statement noting that it is withdrawing the complaint has been shared as a story on its Instagram account.

Update, 3/16/2018, 11:20am: Court records indicate that the case was withdrawn this morning by “Voluntary Dismissal.”

Street artists are calling for a boycott of H&M after the Swedish clothing company took legal action against a graffiti artist to refute his rights over his own work. Across social media, artists including INSA, KAWS, and Lady Aiko are denouncing H&M for what they describe as an “assault on artists’ rights,” and calling for a boycott of the company.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - News Articles