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A new virtual speaker series

In conjunction with Sam Durant’s High Line Plinth commission Untitled (drone), High Line Art, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU Law, present “The Normalizing Gaze: Surveillance from Drones to Phones,” a biweekly online speaker series from July–October 2021. This series brings together artists, activists, scholars, filmmakers, journalists, and more to demystify the twinned histories of surveillance and drone warfare in the US and illuminate routine examples of surveillance in our daily lives.

Learn more about the artwork

A new virtual speaker series

In conjunction with Sam Durant’s High Line Plinth commission Untitled (drone), High Line Art, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU Law, present “The Normalizing Gaze: Surveillance from Drones to Phones,” a biweekly online speaker series from July–October 2021. This series brings together artists, activists, scholars, filmmakers, journalists, and more to demystify the twinned histories of surveillance and drone warfare in the US and illuminate routine examples of surveillance in our daily lives.

Learn more about the artwork
Event Registration

All events are listed in eastern time. Registration is required for each event via the links below. Full details and speaker bios are beneath the registration details.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm
Tactics and Technologies: Facial Recognition to Predictive Policing
Featuring Lynn Hershman Leeson, artist; Kade Crockford, Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts; and Ángel Díaz, Counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice; moderated by Albert Fox Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.
Register now

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 12 – 1:30pm
Artificial Intelligence & Algorithms: How we train surveillance tools
Featuring Chris Gilliard, writer, professor, and speaker; and Meredith Whittaker, Co-founder and Co-director, AI Now Institute, NYU; and artist Mimi Ọnụọha, moderated by Albert Fox Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.
Register now

Thursday, September 16, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm
Art, Artists, & Conflict
Featuring artists Sam Durant, Coco Fusco, and Naeem Mohaiemen, moderated by Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator
Register now

Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm
Digital Sanctuary Cities: Surveillance, Immigration, and Protecting Black Dissent
Featuring Mizue Aizeki, Interim Executive Director, Immigrant Defense Project; Jacinta González, Senior Campaign Organizer, Mijente; and Carin Kuoni, Senior Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School
Register now

Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm
Building Surveillance: Three Chapters in US History
Featuring Assia Boundaoui, filmmaker and investigative journalist (director/producer, The Feeling of Being Watched); Simone Browne, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (author, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness); and Aliya Hana Hussain, Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights; moderated by Lilly Irani, Associate Professor of Communication & Science Studies at University of California, San Diego
Register now

Wednesday, October 27, 6 – 7:30pm
Public Health, Vaccine Passports, & Surveillance
Speakers to be announced
Register now

“The Normalizing Gaze” is organized by High Line Art and Albert Fox Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.). The program is hosted by the High Line and the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU Law. Program advisors include the Center for Constitutional Rights, Immigrant Defense Project, MediaJustice, Mijente, Mpower Change, and Reprieve. Learn more about our Advisors.

Event Details

Tactics and Technologies: Facial Recognition to Predictive Policing

Featuring Lynn Hershman Leeson, Kade Crockford, and Ángel Díaz, moderated by Albert Fox Cahn
Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm

Surveillance technologies can take many forms: from the clunky phone bugs seen in black-and-white spy movies, to the location data that enables everything from targeted ads, to predictive policing algorithms. The three speakers in this conversation will examine different elements of digital and analog surveillance systems, from those employed by law enforcement agencies across the US to those installed in your smartphone or on your house or apartment building, to illuminate the software and hardware connections that follow us every day.

Lynn Hershman Leeson
Artist
Over the last four decades, artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has been internationally acclaimed for her art and films. One of the most influential media artists, Hershman Leeson is widely recognized for her innovative work investigating issues that are now recognized as key to the workings of society: the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. Over the last forty years she has made pioneering contributions to the fields of photography, video, film, performance, installation and interactive as well as net-based media art.

Kade Crockford
Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts
Kade works to protect and expand core First and Fourth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century, focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just the society in general but their primary targets—people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents.

Ángel Díaz
Counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Ángel Díaz is counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. His work focuses on the intersection of technology with civil rights and civil liberties. He is active on issues related to policing and technology and provides commentary on law enforcement surveillance via social media, license plate readers, gang databases, connected devices, and other technologies. He is also active on matters of online speech and content moderation, providing commentary on the disparate impact of content removals, government censorship, and emerging threats to freedom of expression.

Albert Fox Cahn, moderator
Founder and director, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
Albert Fox Cahn is the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project’s ( S.T.O.P.’s) founder and executive director, and he is also a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, Ashoka, N.Y.U Law School’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy, and the Day One Project. Mr. Cahn is a contributor to the New York Times, Boston Globe, Guardian, WIRED, and dozens of other publications. Mr. Cahn serves on the New York Immigration Coalition’s Immigrant Leaders Council, the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund’s Advisory Council. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School, and his B.A. from Brandeis University.

Artificial Intelligence & Algorithms: How we train surveillance tools

Featuring Chris Gilliard, Meredith Whittaker, and Mimi Ọnụọha
Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 12 – 1:30pm

What is artificial intelligence? What is an algorithm, really, and how does it work? In this conversation, three speakers unpack how artificial intelligence is built, question the intelligence we project onto statistical calculations, and explore the ways that existing social relations are reproduced in the very algorithms often intended to remove human fallibility and emotions.

Meredith Whittaker
Co-founder and Co-director, AI Now Institute, NYU
Meredith Whittaker is the Minderoo Research Professor at NYU, and the Faculty Director and Co-founder of the AI Now Institute. Her work focuses on the social implications of artificial intelligence and the tech industry responsible for it, with a particular emphasis on power and the political economy driving the commercialization of computational technology. Prior to NYU, she worked at Google for over a decade, where she led product and engineering teams, founded Google’s Open Research Group, and co-founded M-Lab, a globally distributed network measurement platform that now provides the world’s largest source of open data on internet performance. As a long-time tech worker, she also helped lead labor organizing at Google, and she continues to work in solidarity with organizers in tech, driven by the belief that worker power and collective action are necessary to ensure meaningful tech accountability, especially in the context of concentrated industrial power.

Chris Gilliard
Writer, professor, and speaker
Dr. Chris Gilliard is a writer, professor and speaker. His scholarship concentrates on digital privacy, surveillance, and the intersections of race, class, and technology. He is an advocate for critical and equity-focused approaches to tech in education. His ideas have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wired Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, and Vice Magazine. He is a Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center Visiting Research Fellow, a member of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry Scholars Council, and a member of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project community advisory board.

Mimi Ọnụọha 
Artist
Mimi Ọnụọha is a Nigerian-American artist creating work about a world made to fit the form of data. By foregrounding absence and removal, her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation and video to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities’ different relationships to systems that are digital, cultural, historical, and ecological. Onuoha has spoken and exhibited internationally and has been in residence at Studio XX (Canada), Data & Society Research Institute (USA), the Royal College of Art (UK), Eyebeam Center for Arts & Technology (USA), and Arthouse Foundation (Nigeria, upcoming). She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Art, Artists, and Conflict

Featuring Sam Durant, Coco Fusco, and Naeem Mohaiemen, moderated by Melanie Kress
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Join three artists in conversation on artists’ roles, responsibilities, and tactics around presentations and examinations of conflict. Through examples of their own artworks and others, the three artists address the challenge of how to address, present, or represent conflict taking place in the present. When speaking to warfare, violence, and other forms of conflict, do artists have certain moral obligations to representation or abstraction? A responsibility to take an explicit stance or create artworks that provide a certain amount of distance from the subject matter, whether through abstraction, temporal distance, adopting documentary aesthetics? Sam Durant, Coco Fusco, and Naeem Mohaiemen each have very different aesthetic approaches and topical interests, and will share insights from across their personal and artistic experiences, as well as other artists and models they each look to for guidance.

Sam Durant
Artist
Across drawings, sculptures, installations, and community-driven public projects, Durant examines the ways in which groups of people make their values visible and heard in public space. Over the past two decades, Durant has investigated the nature of public space—both its physical manifestation with monuments and public institutions, and the activities that take place in the public realm, including political rallies and civic uprisings. His work is represented in major collections worldwide, including Tate, London, England; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Coco Fusco
Artist
Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, a Fulbright fellowship and a Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco’s performances and videos have been presented in the 56th Venice Biennale, Frieze Special Projects, Basel Unlimited, two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), and several other international exhibitions. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center, the Centre Pompidou, the Imperial War Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. She is the author of Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba (2015). She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York. She is a Professor of Art at Cooper Union.

Naeem Mohaiemen
Artist
Naeem Mohaiemen researches forms of utopia-dystopia and malleable belonging– sometimes beginning from South Asia’s two postcolonial markers (1947, 1971) and then radiating outward to unlikely, and unstable, transnational alliances (Japanese skyjackers, German adventurers, Lebanese conscripts, or a Dutch journalist). He is 2021 Senior Fellow at Lunder Institute of American Art.

Melanie Kress, moderator
High Line Art Associate Curator
Melanie Kress is a curator and writer based in New York. She is the Associate Curator for High Line Art, where since 2014 she has commissioned and produced projects with artists including Maria Thereza Alves, Lubaina Himid, Zoe Leonard, Ligia Lewis, Sable Elyse Smith, and Will Rawls, among others. In 2010 she co-founded the Brooklyn-based project space Concrete Utopia, of which she was Director and Chief Curator until its closing in 2012. She holds a BA in Art History and Visual Arts from Barnard College and an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Digital Sanctuary Cities: Surveillance, Immigration, and Protecting Black Dissent

Featuring Mizue Aizeki, Jacinta González, and Carin Kuoni
Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm

While the borders of the US are often conceived as clear lines, in reality they manifest as a labyrinth of agencies, individuals, and surveillance technologies. Border surveillance encompasses numerous technologies: US Customs and Border Protection drones can observe the majority of American homes, flying anywhere within 100 miles of a land border or coast; immigrants awaiting court dates are forced to wear electronic GPS shackles; conceits for a physical border wall increasingly give way to plans for an invisible wall of surveillance; and more. The speakers in this conversation will explain the variety of individual surveillance technologies used by Department of Homeland Security agencies, and how these technologies directly impact immigrant and BIPOC communities, as well as everyone living within the US.

Mizue Aizeki
Interim Executive Director, Immigrant Defense Project
Mizue’s work focuses on ending the injustices—including criminalization, imprisonment, and exile—at the intersections of the criminal and immigration systems. Mizue guides IDP’s local and state policy work, including the ICE Out of Courts Campaign and IDP’s campaigns to end the growing entanglement between local law enforcement and ICE. Mizue also leads IDP’s project on Surveillance, Technology, and Immigration Policing, which includes building community and legal defenses against ICE raids and the growing homeland security apparatus. Mizue has organized around racial justice, workers’ rights, and the policing and deportation of immigrants in the interior and at the U.S.-Mexico border for over twenty years. Mizue is also a photographer whose work has appeared in Dying to Live, A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid (City Lights Books, 2008) and Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso, 2016).

Jacinta González
Senior Campaign Organizer with Mijente
Jacinta Gonzalez is a Senior Campaign Organizer with Mijente and is based in Phoenix, AZ. Previously, she worked at PODER in México, organizing the Río Sonora River Basin committees against water contamination by the mining industry. Jacinta was the lead organizer for the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice Congress of Day Laborers (2007-2014). In Louisiana Gonzalez helped establish a base of day laborers and undocumented families dedicated to building worker power, advancing racial justice, and organizing against deportations in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Carin Kuoni
Senior Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School
Carin Kuoni is a curator and writer whose work examines how contemporary artistic practices reflect and shape social, political, and cultural conditions. She is senior director/chief curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School and assistant professor of Visual Studies. She has curated numerous transdisciplinary exhibitions, and is editor or co-editor of several books among them Energy Plan for the Western Man: Joseph Beuys in America; Considering Forgiveness; Entry Points: The Vera List Center Field Guide on Art and Social Justice; Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production; Forces of Art: Perspectives from a Changing World.

Building Surveillance: Three Chapters in US History

Featuring Simone Browne, Assia Boundaoui, and Aliya Hana Hussain, moderated by Lilly Irani.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 6 – 7:30pm

This panel discussion invites three speakers to share important chapters in US surveillance history: analog surveillance in the early colonial era, FBI surveillance of Black and Muslim communities in the 1970s through 1990s, and NYPD and federal surveilance of Muslim communities after 9/11. The speakers will then weave the chapters together, showing the historical, tactical, and social connections between agencies, approaches, and philosophies and how surveillance undergirds the need for control and fear of the other in US society from its earliest days.

Assia Boundaoui
Filmmaker and investigative journalist
Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American filmmaker and investigative journalist. Her award-winning directorial debut, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED a documentary investigating a decade of FBI surveillance in her Muslim-American community, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and national broadcast on PBS POV. Assia was honored with the Livingston Award for national reporting in 2020 and is a Ford Foundation JustFilms Fellow at the MIT Open Documentary Lab where she is iterating her most recent hybrid work: the Inverse Surveillance Project. She has an M.A. in journalism from New York University and is an Algiers born, Arabic speaking, Chicagoan.

Simone Browne
Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
Simone Browne is also Research Director of Critical Surveillance Inquiry (CSI) with Good Systems. CSI works with scholars, organizations and communities to curate conversations, exhibitions and research that examine the social and ethical implications of surveillance, both AI-enabled and not. Focusing on algorithmic harms, CSI continually questions “what’s good?” in order to better understand the development and impact of AI. Simone’s book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, examines surveillance with a focus on transatlantic slavery, biometrics, airports and creative texts. She is writing her second book, Like the Mixture of Charcoal and Darkness, which examines the interventions made by artists whose works grapple with the surveillance of Black life, from policing and the FBI’s COINTELPRO to encryption, electronic waste and AI.

Aliya Hana Hussain
Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights
Aliya Hana Hussain is an Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she manages CCR’s advocacy and campaigns on indefinite detention at Guantanamo, the profiling and targeting of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, and accountability for torture and other war crimes. In addition to public speaking, organizing events, actions, and rallies, and serving as a liaison between lawyers and grassroots activists, her work focuses on developing new and creative partnerships with artists, musicians, and activists to bring CCR’s work and client stories to new platforms and audiences.

Lilly Irani, moderator
Associate Professor of Communication & Science Studies at University of California, San Diego
Lilly Irani also serves as faculty in the Design Lab, Institute for Practical Ethics, the program in Critical Gender Studies, and sits on the Academic Advisory Board of AI Now (NYU). She is author of Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India (Princeton University Press, 2019) and Redacted (with Jesse Marx) (Taller California, 2021). Chasing Innovation has been awarded the 2020 International Communication Association Outstanding Book Award and the 2019 Diana Forsythe Prize for feminist anthropological research on work, science, or technology, including biomedicine. Her research examines the cultural politics of high-tech work and the counter-practices they generate, as both an ethnographer, a designer, and a former technology worker. She is a co-founder of the digital worker advocacy organization Turkopticon. Her work has appeared at ACM SIGCHI, New Media & Society, Science, Technology & Human Values, South Atlantic Quarterly, and other venues. She sits on the Editorial Committee of Public Culture and on the Editorial Advisory Boards of New Technology, Work, and Employment and Design and Culture. She has a Ph.D. in Informatics from University of California, Irvine.

Public Health, Vaccine Passports, & Surveillance

Speakers to be announced
Wednesday, October 27, 6 – 7:30pm

This conversation explores the tensions between privacy and public health surveillance, following the contours of both contemporary and historical debates. As COVID-19 brings incredible weight to every public health decision, we must closely examine novel tracking technologies such as smartphone-based contact tracing, electronic vaccine credentials, and new vaccine passports for international travel. Frequently, the public is presented with the dichotomy of privacy vs. public health, but the reality of this schism in practice is unclear. New technologies raise pressing concerns not only around equity, but also efficacy, as public health officials, technologists, and advocates debate whether these systems actually work to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Crucially, as both the public and private sectors race to respond to the emergency, they are building systems that may become part of our technological landscape in perpetuity.

Partners

The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy provides a unique environment where scholars can examine the key drivers of innovation as well as the law and policy that best support innovation. By fostering interdisciplinary and collaborative research on innovation law and policy, the Engelberg Center attracts legal scholars and practitioners, technologists, economists, social scientists, physical scientists, historians, innovators, and industry experts who study the incentives that motivate innovators, how those incentives vary among creative endeavors, and the laws and policies that help or hinder them.

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider. S.T.O.P. litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. Their work highlights the discriminatory impact of surveillance on Muslim Americans, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous peoples, and communities of color, particularly the unique trauma of anti-Black policing. S.T.O.P. hopes to transform New York City and State into models for the rest of the United States of how to harness novel technologies without adversely impacting marginalized communities.