About the CSIA

CSIA at Science Gallery Dublin (2015)

The Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency (CSIA) is a creative research project that takes the form of an online application and interactive installation that partially replicates an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) system. The CSIA has been shown internationally at art exhibitions, discussed at conferences, and has been used as the basis for academic articles and book chapters.

The CSIA app is accessible online and consists of an interface that allows the viewer to experience how intelligence agents view social media posts and two machine-learning classifiers for predictive policing. Like OSINT interfaces used by intelligence agencies and government contractors, the CSIA recontextualizes social media posts by removing them from their original context and reframing them as a potential threat to national security. The CSIA was created using technical manuals, research reports, academic papers, leaked documents, and Freedom of Information Act files. The goal of the CSIA is to expose potential problems, assumptions, or oversights inherent in current dataveillance processes in order to help people understand both the effectiveness of OSINT processing and its impact on our privacy.

Practice-Based Research

The CSIA is part of a practice-based research project that combines written scholarship with the material creation of an artifact to supplement gaps in available information. The project is part of Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki’s doctoral dissertation research.

As a research artifact, the CSIA has been basis of several research papers, including: “Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency: Prototyping Counterveillance” published in Big Data & Society’s special issue on veillance in February 2017, and "Qualculative Poetics: An Artistic Critique of Rational Judgment" in Shifting Interfaces: Presence and Relationality in New Media Arts of the Early 21st Century (forthcoming).

Interactive Artwork

The online app can be accessed at any time, but the CSIA is also exhibited in art venues and public spaces by creating terminals accessible to the public. The first terminal was commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin for the SECRET exhibition in 2015. Since then, we have screened, discussed, and exhibited the projet at numerous international conferences and exhibitions. When displayed as part of an exhibition, the tweets under surveillance are often taken from the Twitter accounts of the artists and curators of the event, followers of the venue, or from a list provided by the curator of the exhibition.

Artist Bios

Jennifer Gradecki & Derek Curry

Derek Curry’s academic research and artwork investigates how automated decision-making technology used in algorithmic stock trading and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering have augmented the nature of human agency and provided new spaces for intervention. Curry earned his PhD from the Department of Media Study at SUNY Buffalo and his MFA from UCLA. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston

Jennifer Gradecki is an artist-theorist investigating information as a source of power and resistance: using methods of institutional critique, tactical media and information activism, she aims to open up secretive and specialized systems to analysis and critique. Her dissertation, Operation Mosaic: Informational Mosaics in Art and Intelligence Practices, analyzes the metaphors and conceptions of data and information articulated by intelligence analysts and artists who investigate the surveillance state. She received her MFA in New Genres from UCLA in 2010 and is currently a PhD candidate in Visual Studies at SUNY Buffalo and an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston.