Visibility, Power and Citizen Intervention: The Five Eyes and New Zealand’s Southern Cross Cable

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In a quiet suburb of New Zealand in 2013, an unknown artist installed his artwork on a seemingly ordinary cable pole; the artwork proclaimed ‘Five Eyes Network – Surveillance Outpost’. Unbeknownst to the public, the post marked the landing point of the Southern Cross Cable, the only undersea cable connecting New Zealand to the outside world, carrying all of the country’s internet traffic. How does such a small nation like New Zealand figure in the global debate over mass surveillance? Controversy following Snowden’s NSA exposés enveloped New Zealand, fuelled by the revelations that the New Zealand government, as part of the Five Eyes intelligence community, had been collecting data on the population by tapping the Southern Cross Cable. ‘If you live in New Zealand,’ Snowden wrote, ‘you are being watched.’
This article examines the relationship between power and visibility; specifically how creative citizen engagement can serve to reveal structures of power surrounding global politics and surveillance. Visibility is a central concept, extending beyond issues of local visibility at the micro level, into the networked, global environment through online media. The significance of the cable landing point and its intersection with the public space is analysed in relation to the invisibility of elite powers, and the potential for creative participation to act as resistance to dominant narratives over surveillance and privacy. This artistic intervention points to an evolving citizen counter-narrative of the surveillance state, making visible the connected, global system where the influential power of the Five Eyes alliance is wielded.
TidsskriftWestminster Papers in Communication and Culture
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)37-50
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 31 okt. 2017

ID: 185180878