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The Red Herring Project

A Transmedia Network

In January of 2015, META launched the research phase of their inaugural project.

Tentatively titled "Red Herring- A Transmedia Network", it is an interactive storytelling project for public spaces.

Utilizing several modern communications technologies, META will prototype three “video chat phone booths”, enabling a public discourse between various public spaces in the greater Miami area.
All of the ‘Nodes’ of our video chat network will be able to connect to each other, at any hour - whether or not there is someone on the other side.
The entire backend of the Red Herring network will be encrypted, filtered through a VPN, and pushed over TOR, causing each new clip transmitted across the network to add to a growing swarm of cryptodata for the NSA to track.
This enables a social activism agenda by combining free expression with a data-centric methodology that critiques national surveillance efforts by overwhelming them.
These nodes offer a virtual and dynamic window into various spaces in Miami, allowing the public to interact in realtime via the network, or to simply leave a short video recording for others to find.
M.E.T.A. will record a small group of scenarios involving the invasion of privacy, and mix them into the loop of user-submitted videos recorded on the network, slowly forming an exquisite corpse.

Freedom of artistic expression, freedom of association and free speech are compromised by Big Brother government agencies and other data mining organizations. Therefore, it becomes the duty of the citizenry to resist mass surveillance and protect privacy by encrypting as much as possible of our communications.

By doing this we create ‘red herrings’ that, based on their encryption status become potential ‘targets’ for big data mining organizations like the NSA. Mass-adoption by the public makes mass surveillance more expensive, and consequently more difficult to sustain. This project centers on a creative activism that helps to restore rights, as well as to protect liberty and the fundamental principles upon which democracy rests in the digital age.
The goal of this project is twofold. Firstly, we aim to empower the public with a secure communications platform for free expression and communication in public places. Secondly, we intend to create a scaleable distraction for the busybodies at the NSA and beyond, scaling the amount of encrypted traffic beyond their ability to intercept effectively.
On this Telematic Art platform, people can communicate in realtime with the other secure nodes, via verbal communication, performance, etc. Once the public begins adding recorded content over time, a narrative will be created that will become a public discourse. The overall sequence of content is created collaboratively, and becomes a transmedia object whose content migrates across the web. Initially, clips of various privacy infringement acts and public service announcements will be uploaded to complement the public’s interactions as well as to provide the participant with a subtext of activism which could act as a catalyst for their interactions with the network.
The physical design of the videochat/nodes will be determined by their location -for example, in an outdoor location, weatherproofing will be required that an indoor node will not need. An indoor node might resemble an ATM machine. All the nodes have a fixed camera angle, enabling multiple post production visual and temporal effects to be applied, enhancing aspects of the transmedia narrative that at times are not apparent until after the footage has been reviewed. These fixed cameras will look like CCTV further underscoring the surveillance aspect of the project.
In this beta phase we are looking at producing a minimum viable product to launch prototypes that enable each node to provide:
a] 2-way streaming audio/visual communication between nodes,
b] 1-way surveil/record audio/video of other nodes
c] “photobooth” audio/video recording of oneself
During this research & development phase of the project we will diagnose and debug software issues, adjust and modify physical design as needed, potentially add new features and ultimately add additional nodes.
The goal of the next phase is to create a total of 12 such nodes and install them across Miami-Dade County. creating a complex contextual made-in/by-Miami narrative as well as increasing the amount of cryptodata (red herrings) swarming to impede NSA or NSA-like organizations.
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