Angelo Vermeulen: Translucent Futures

Ubiquitous technology and the attrition of civil rights and privacy

Translucent Futures is an artistic/activist platform initiated by Angelo Vermeulen that deals with the increasing abrasion of civil liberties through ubiquitous, networked, miniaturized technology. Far-reaching use of techniques such as data mining, audiovisual surveillance, automated behavioural analysis, see-through body scanning, DNA profiling etc. is being legislated at a disturbing rate. While governmental and corporate use of these technologies is consistently pushed further into the realms of daily life, the opposite seems to be the case for civilians: technologies can only be used under firm restrictions, or are simply not accessible. Data mining for example is widely used by corporations, while the same activity when carried out by an individual is too easily labelled ‘hacking’.

Regardless of activist groups continuously questioning these issues, the larger public does not appear well-informed. The complexity, diversity and speed of current technological developments can be daunting. Moreover, many of these developments and techniques are applied in secrecy and can hardly be discerned by an untrained eye. This automatically raises vital questions about contemporary civil liberties and the relation between civilians and government. If most techniques only become visible after we transgress the law (e.g. introduced as evidence), should we be worried at all? Or should we rather strive for a fully transparent society based on accountability, where the ‘watchers’ can also be watched, at all times?

Translucent Futures hopes to keep the attention to the imperative problem of eroding civil liberties in modern hi-tech society. The project is set up in close collaboration with FoAM in Brussels and the support of a growing list of other cultural organisations (Nadine, Brussels; The Hub Brussels; Arteconomy etc.). The objective is to combine open collaborative research, multidisciplinary dialogue, artistic practice and activism.

See also:
In progress:
[nadine] research residency:
Baudelaire in Cyberspace publication:
Artist's website and blog:

related activities


Art in uncertain conditions

related events

Research Gathering with Angelo Vermeulen

2008-10-31 18:00 Europe/Brussels
2008-10-31 21:00 Europe/Brussels

During this research gathering Angelo Vermeulen will present a round-up of Translucent Futures, a project he started at FoAM in June and continued at a residency at [nadine] in September and October, supported by the Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators. The meeting starts with a short introduction outlining the project’s main goals and research approach through mind-mapping, wiki-building and collaboration with specialists from different fields.

Research Gathering 2007 06 15: Kate Rich and other RiRs

2007-06-15 12:00 Europe/Brussels
2007-06-15 20:00 Europe/Brussels

This Research gathering, brought together FoAM's researchers in residence from 2006 and 2007, to discuss topics as wide ranging as Fair Trade, photovoltaics, cultural scents, extreme weather fashion, strange attractors and techno-textiles.

Everyone was welcome to join the discussions, talk about their current explorations, unsolvable problems, or amazing inventions. The gathering began at noon, with a 'guilt-free' lunch, collected and cooked by FoAM's dedicated shoppers and chefs.

More about the programme...

Feral Trade Tea Party & Raffle

2008-11-16 17:00 Europe/Brussels
2008-11-16 19:00 Europe/Brussels

Kate Rich will introduce Feral Trade (, serve ferally traded tea & coffee & conduct a raffle of the Feral Trade Hamper, a seasonal selection of goods sourced and transported over social networks.

related articles

Cocky Eek: Pneumatology

When confronted with contemporary environmental questions, one thing became very clear to me: out of fear, or guilt, we can’t create anything. Therefore, as a topic of my research residency, I chose the quality of lightness. Italo Calvino underlines this quality as one of his ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’, where he describes a scene from Cernavantes’ novel, in which Don Quixote drives his lance through the sail of a windmill and is hoisted up into the air. I wonder whether we could begin to construct our worlds from this lightness.

Jack Anderson: FoAM Valuator

Valuator is a study of the contemporary art market, focusing on marketing strategies for new media art sales. The most innovative and challenging of contemporary art practices are not transacted in the mainstream market for current art. To have agency within these spheres of trade, the results of new media art disciplines require a redefinition of: what is deemed collectable; how the price mechanics in fine art are circulated and the preservation instruments used to build the heritage trust necessary for the endorsement of future beneficiaries.

Bartaku: PhoEf

PhoEf is a research project exploring the essence, use and abuse of the photovoltaic effect - the conversion of light in electrical energy - in the realms of science, industry, technology and the arts. PhoEf emerged from a personal, transversal flight through the interconnected worlds behind and around photovoltaics; a technology based on A.E. Becquerel's 1839 observation of the photovoltaic effect. PhoEf is embedded in a rich, multidisciplinary, historical context.

In progress:

Kate Rich: Fair Trade

The research takes place at the intersection of several networks: art, information and food. Its express intention is to use tools of art (production/curation) to investigate how our daily grocery products are articulated, packaged, distributed and delivered.

Sanjeev Shankar: WcCafe

Toilets have been a source of taboo, embarrassment and humour in many cultures. This project explores the subject of toilets and defecation and aims to bring it out in the open. The intent is to create a cafe which makes toilet discussion a table discussion, thereby giving it legitimacy. ‘WcCafe’ would serve coffee and snacks in an environment which is beautiful, refreshing and purposeful.

In progress:

Alkan Chipperfield: Field work at FoAM

"Most of you must have been puzzled on occasion as to what i have been doing here: but I assure you that the most puzzled one has surely been myself..."

More of Alkan's research notes:

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