Media Advisory: UB’s Plasma series to examine relationship between media art and social activism

Release Date: April 18, 2014 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. –Alessandra Renzi is a media artist who explores how governments and corporations use social media to surveil and police citizens for reasons often unknown to the citizens themselves. For some of these artists, including Renzi, exposure of such surveillance is more than an academic exercise. It aims to promote political participation.

On April 21 Renzi will be the guest of the University at Buffalo Department of Media Study (DMS) and the UB Gender Institute when she presents a free public talk about her work at 6:30 p.m. in the Screening Room, 112 Center for the Arts, UB North Campus.

This talk is part of the Plasma series inaugurated this year by the DMS to present performances, lectures and screenings of media art. The presentation will be streamed live the night of the event at  

Renzi is an assistant professor in emergent media in the Program in Media and Screen Studies in the Northeastern University Department of Art and Design.

Her work explores and exposes links among social media, art and activism using ethnographic studies and media art projects. A particular interest of hers is how social media platforms affect notions and practices of participation and collaboration.

These interests have led her to be part of, and study, pirate television networks in Italy, and to investigate the surveillance of social movements in Canada.

She is the author, with Greg Elmer of Ryerson University in Toronto, of “Infrastructure Critical: Sacrifice at Toronto’s G8/G20 Summit” (2012), which examines civil rights and the role of social media in the 2010 summit. Specifically, it looks at how Canada’s Conservative government funneled its summit stimulus package into “infrastructure” projects aimed at policing Canadians protesting the political, environmental and social positions taken by summit participants.

As part of her past research on surveillance and dissent she co-produced the documentary “Preempting Dissent: Policing the Crisis,” a collaborative, open source project incorporating footage crowd-sourced through media activist networks.

She also is the co-creator of “Activism beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project,” an art activist or “artivist” project that considers the intersection of face-to-face and human/computer interface interactions.

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