London · april 15 · 2016:

BOTS: Tracking Systems of Control

The 7th event of the Disruption Network Lab. At Somerset House, New Wing, London.
Curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli.

Conference developed in partnership with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) alongside “The Art of Bots” programme, taking place at Somerset House (New Wing) on 15 and 16 April 2016, London, UK.

Disruptionlab event page on the AND site.

Tickets: £7 / £5.

“BOTS: Tracking Systems of Control” focuses on the dark side of bots usage, on the issues of surveillance, tracking and whistleblowing. In particular, the use of automated systems for network centric aerial warfare, drone airstrikes, online tracking, and pervasive invisible infrastructures will be analysed and presented.
The DNL London features a keynote speaker, U.S. Air Force whistle-blower Cian Westmoreland (Project Red Hand, USA), and a panel discussion that considers the relationship between surveillance and the use of automated data tracking. Who is responsible for the output and actions of bots, both ethically and legally?

Programme · Friday April 15 · 2016

13:00-14:30 · KEYNOTE

Cian Westmoreland (U.S. Air Force whistleblower, Project Red Hand, USA). Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli (Artistic Director of the Disruption Network Lab, IT/DE).

15:00-17:00 · PANEL

Vladan Joler (Director of the SHARE Foundation, Associate Professor and Chair of New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, RS), Joana Moll (artist and researcher, ES), Richard Tynan (Technologist at Privacy International, UK), Carmen Weisskopf (!Mediengruppe Bitnik, CH). Moderated by Marc Garrett (co-founder, Furtherfield, UK).

BOTS: Tracking Systems of Control

The event aims to expand the definition of “bots” by interconnecting systems of control, data tracking and surveillance practices that are based on a high degree of automatism and diffused of responsibility. By bringing together whistleblowers, researchers, activists, hackers and artists, the purpose is to analyse systems that perform automated functions, on a human and technological level. At the core of the discussion are network centric aerial warfare, online tracking, and pervasive invisible surveillance infrastructures. From one side, we want to encourage a deeper understanding of global aerial network systems coordinated over large distances, and question the ethical and legal responsibility in the nature of modern warfare; from the other side, we want to investigate the functionalities and inner mechanisms of bulk metadata collection, and virtual surveillance technologies manufactured to acquire and process behavioural patterns.

The discussion will be unfolded by generating a reverse engineering process, exploring infrastructures of injustice from within, by interconnecting – and even in some case tracking – systems of controls. A conscious resistance against tracking and pervasive surveillance will be encouraged, by allowing a greater understanding of network centric systems and imagining possible alternatives. In particular, the use of automated systems for network centric aerial warfare, drone airstrikes, metadata analysis, data tracking, and surveillance technologies based on personal information and behavioural pattern collection will be presented.

This event will provide analysis on the current ethical issues concerning centralised automatism and increasing geopolitical and intimate surveillance, by questioning inner structures and logics of military, political and technological systems.

13:00-14:30: April 15, 2016

Keynote: DIFFUSED OF RESPONSIBILITY - On Network Centric Aerial Warfare and a Call for Greater Understanding

Cian Westmoreland (U.S. Air Force whistleblower, Project Red Hand, USA). Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli (Artistic Director of the Disruption Network Lab, IT/DE).

Diffusion of responsibility is the nature of modern warfare. Often described in books as intrastate and asymmetrical, what likely goes unnoticed is what the violence actually means to individuals within these modern militaries in relation to the roles they played. Weapons systems are coordinated over large distances and require a network of highly specialized operators, sensors, and machine programming just to function properly. Cian Westmoreland has served the U.S. government until April 18, 2014. When he went to Afghanistan in 2009, his squadron set up the system which offered Battlefield Command and Control, connecting the soldiers on the ground to the battlefield commander, and the planes that were to deliver their payloads.
When we think of a precision airstrike, what normally comes to mind? Who makes the decisions? How many people and processes are involved in conducting these strikes? Who is ultimately responsible for the end result? What is a weapons system? This keynote presentation will attempt to provide audience with some understanding to answer some of these questions, and will give an insight into some potential ethical problems with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and perhaps even an insight into how atrocities such as the bombing of civilians without soldiers and airmen challenging the system can happen. In doing so, this presentation also seeks to help further a more comprehensive dialogue toward the understanding of warfare and societies at a human level.


15:00-17:00: April 15, 2016

Panel: TRACKING THE TRACKERS - The Art and Tactics of Reverse-Engineer Surveillance

Vladan Joler (Director of the SHARE Foundation, Associate Professor and Chair of New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, RS), Joana Moll (artist and researcher, ES), Richard Tynan (Technologist at Privacy International, UK), Carmen Weisskopf (!Mediengruppe Bitnik, CH). Moderated by Marc Garrett (co-founder, Furtherfield, UK).

This panel investigate virtual surveillance practices, by focusing on a reverse engineering process that will explore the possibilities of using analysis methods of intelligence agencies and private corporations. Our online presence and activity is producing a big amount of traces and data which might be collected and analysed to acquire information on our behaviours, interests, relationships and in general, a concrete picture of our everyday life. The panel focuses on various projects that contribute for a better understanding of automated surveillance, online tracking and metadata analysis. Vladan Joler will present the Share Lab’s metadata investigation on the Hacking Team, one of the World’s biggest cyber weapon manufacturers and dealers – an Italian based company which faced a leak of their internal email database on July 5, 2015 – as well as the Share Lab’s broader data reporting on online trackers ”Invisible Infrastructures”. Joana Moll will present “The Virtual Watchers”, an on-going research project by Joana Moll & Marius Pé that focus on analysing the interactions of a group, part of a well known social network, called RedServants*. This group gathered civilians that voluntarily monitored the US-Mexico border through a public initiative, partly funded by the State of Texas, that was designed to empower citizens to fight border crime and illegal immigration by means of crowdsourcing. Richard Tynan, technologist at Privacy International, will investigate tracking and surveillance methods adopted by the British intelligence and security organisation (CGHQ), analysing which instruction editors of The Guardian received to destroy their computer hardware storing Snowden documents, and what those instructions teach us about global data collection. Finally, !Mediengruppe Bitnik will be presenting recent works from around Internet subculture, surveillance and bots: "Random Darknet Shopper", their recently completed work where they directly connected art spaces with the Darknet via an automated online shopping bot, creating a landscape of traded goods, and "Same Same - Watching Algorithms", a software bot which counterposes contemporary surveillance technologies with historic Dada art works, by replacing images on the Cabaret Voltaire’s website with algorithmically similar images.


Cian Westmoreland (U.S. Air Force whistleblower, Project Red Hand, USA)

In 2009, Cian Westmoreland was in the U.S. Air Force in Kandahar. He helped build a communications system that helped coordinated all air operations over Afghanistan through a network of individuals around the globe. When he finished, he received a bullet on his Enlisted Performance Report that he assisted 200+ enemy kills. The “+” ate at him and caused him to research further and cross reference numbers with the UN figures, and found that this number did not include civilians. His life’s work was a job that still continues to kill people in what he now believes to be an unjust war. This drove him to travel the world in search of answers, and to find some truth. As Cian points out, “I once believed in national security, and now I believe in human security. It is essential for the survival of our species and life on this earth that we all do the same and think critically of how we can move the world around us to make life safe for everyone. This is the challenge of this generation”. From "Project Red Hand":

Vladan Joler (Director of the SHARE Foundation, Associate Professor and Chair of New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, RS)

Vladan Joler is Associate Professor and Chair of New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and the director of the SHARE Foundation, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting the rights of Internet citizens and promoting positive values of openness, decentralization, free access and exchange of knowledge, information and technology. In last 2 years Vladan is leading Share Lab – a research and data investigation lab for exploring different technical aspects of the intersections between technology and society. Share Lab is using various network topology, data mining and data visualization methods to uncover, visualize and independently monitor different aspects of Internet privacy and security.

Joana Moll (artist and researcher, ES)

Joana Moll is a Barcelona based artist and a researcher. Holds a Master’s degree in Digital Arts from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and a BA in Visual Arts from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her work critically explores the way post-capitalist narratives affect the alphabetization of machines, humans and ecosystems. Her main research topics include communication technologies and CO2 emissions, virtual civil surveillance on the Internet and language. She has exhibited and presented her work in different museums, art centres, festivals, universities and publications around the world. Furthermore, she is a member of the scientific and artistic committee of the transdisciplinary research project Antiatlas des Frontières and co-founder of The Institute for the Advancement of Popular Automatisms. She is a visiting lecturer at College of Art and Design of Vic and a lecturer at VIT Lab in Vic (Barcelona). Her work and full resume is available at

Richard Tynan (Technologist at Privacy International, UK)

Richard Tynan is a Technologist at Privacy International, with a specific focus on the area of surveillance technologies. He focuses on wired and wireless surveillance mechanisms and the strategies employed by cyber-criminals to harvest valuable private information from a wide range of ubiquitous devices such as cell phones and personal computers. Richard holds a first class honours BSc (Hons) degree and a PhD in Distributed Artificial Intelligence for Embedded Sensor Networks from University College Dublin, and has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Law. In 2014, Richard Tynan, visited Guardian headquarters with Mustafa Al-Bassam (former core member, LulzSec) to examine the way GCHQ obliterated The Guardian’s laptops storing copies of top-secret documents provided to them by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Carmen Weisskopf (!Mediengruppe Bitnik, CH)

!Mediengruppe Bitnik (read - the not mediengruppe bitnik) live and work in Zurich. They are contemporary artists working on and with the Internet. Their practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. !Mediengruppe Bitniks works formulate fundamental questions concerning contemporary issues. In early 2013 !Mediengruppe Bitnik sent a parcel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. The parcel contained a camera which broadcast its journey through the postal system live on the internet. They describe «Delivery for Mr. Assange» as a SYSTEM_TEST and a Live Mail Art Piece. They have also been known for sending a bot called «Random Darknet Shopper» on a three-month shopping spree in the Darknets where it randomly bought objects like Ecstasy and had them sent directly to the gallery space. !Mediengruppe Bitnik are the artists Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo. Their accomplices are the London filmmaker and researcher Adnan Hadzi and the reporter Daniel Ryser.


Tatiana Bazzichelli is Artistic Director of the Disruption Network Lab. Former Programme Curator at transmediale festival in Berlin from 2011 to 2014, she initiated and developed the year-round ‘reSource transmedial culture’ project. She was Post-Doctoral researcher at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, as part of the Centre for Digital Cultures (2012 - 2014). In 2011, she received a PhD degree in Information and Media Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Aarhus University in Denmark. In 2009 she was a visiting scholar at the H-STAR, the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute of Stanford University in California. She is born in Rome and since 2003 she lives in Berlin.

Marc Garrett is co-director and co-founder, with artist Ruth Catlow of the Internet arts collectives and communities –,,, also co-founder and co-curator/director of the gallery space formerly known as 'HTTP Gallery' now called the Furtherfield Gallery in London (Finsbury Park), UK. He has co-curated various contemporary Media Arts exhibitions, projects nationally and internationally. He is the co-editor of 'Artists Re:Thinking Games' with Ruth Catlow and Corrado Morgana 2010. He is currently doing an Art history PhD at the University of London, Birkbeck College.


The Art of Bots programme will take place in the New Wing of Somerset House. To access the Disruption Network Lab please use the New Wing entrance, just off Lancaster Place. This entrance is fully accessible to wheelchair users.


This Disruption Network Lab event is curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli in collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices for "The Art of Bots". The event is delivered in partnership with venue partner Somerset House and media partner Furtherfield.
It is realised in the framework of Masters & Servers with support of Aksioma (SI). Masters and Servers is a joint project by Aksioma (SI), Drugo more (HR), Abandon Normal Devices (UK), Link Art Center (IT) and d-i-n-a / The Influencers (ES).
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission and the Arts Council England. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.