Dec. 19, 2017

Media contacts:

Adele Balderston

Tel: 808-532-8727

Taylour Chang
Tel: 808-532-3033


Discussion panel includes Edward Snowden; software program creates custom museum tours through object-detecting neural network; films highlight surveillance

WHEN: Jan. 5–11
WHERE: Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre, 901 Kinau St., between Ward Avenue and Victoria Street
INFO: 532-6097, (publishable)
High-res images available on request.

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I—After four years of highlighting global cultures through regularly scheduled film festivals, the museum’s Doris Duke Theatre staff are exploring ways to expand programming.  

Next month the museum presents CLASSIFIED, a weeklong program that includes a talk with surveillance experts and artists addressing the topic, two workshops and eight films, including the latest from director Laura Poitras. The goal: To explore how technology informs the visible and invisible in our daily lives and art’s role in reimagining how we look at ourselves and others.

The program is made possible by supporting sponsor ACLU of Hawai‘i and hospitality sponsor The MODERN Honolulu.

The week kicks off with a screening of Michael Radford’s 1984, based on the seminal George Orwell novel that coined the term “Big Brother.” 

Then on Saturday join us for a reception and talk with speakers Ben Wizner of the ACLU, artist Trevor Paglen, AI scholar Kate Crawford and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (via video chat). Artist Hasan Elahi moderates. The talk is followed by a reception with food and wine and a chance to have a customized museum tour generated with software created by Pas de Chocolat. 

Here’s the full schedule:

In-Focus Talk + My Profile Tour
Saturday, Jan. 6, 1 p.m. 
$35, $30 museum member • Buy tickets at:
Ticket includes a talk, reception, and personalized museum tour. 
Visiting panelist talk about about art’s role in addressing current issues of surveillance—especially timely in light of current headlines on net neutrality. Featuring Kate Crawford, Hasan Elahi (moderator), Trevor Paglen, Edward Snowden (via video chat) and Ben Wizner.

My Profile Tour 
After the talk, guests can enjoy food and wine and a special “self-guided” tour. Honolulu-based design team Pas de Chocolat’s program using surveillance technologies such as face-detection and an object-detecting neural network will create personalized museum tours of the permanent collections of European, Asian and Pacific art. 

Speaker and artist bios

Ben Wizner is the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. For 16 years he has worked at the intersection of civil liberties and national security, litigating numerous cases involving airport security policies, government watch lists, surveillance practices, targeted killing, and torture. He appears regularly in the global media, has testified before Congress, and is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law. He has been NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s principal legal advisor since 2013. 

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. Paglen has had one-person exhibitions at venues such as the Broad and Frankfurter Kunstverein, and has participated in group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA, Tate Modern, among others. He has contributed research and cinematography to the Oscar-winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of five books. 

Edward Snowden is a former intelligence officer who served the CIA, NSA, and DIA for nearly a decade as a subject matter expert on technology and cybersecurity. In 2013, he revealed that the NSA was seizing the private records of billions of individuals who had not been suspected of any wrongdoing, resulting in the most significant reforms to US surveillance policy since 1978. He has received awards for courage, integrity, and public service, and was named the top global thinker of 2013 by Foreign Policy magazine. Today, he works on methods of enforcing human rights through the application and development of new technologies. He is president of the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Kate Crawford is a leading researcher, academic and author who has spent the last decade studying the social implications of data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence. She is a Distinguished Research Professor at New York University, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New York, and a Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Her recent publications address data bias and fairness, social impacts of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and due process, and algorithmic accountability and transparency. Kate is the co-founder and co-director, with Meredith Whittaker, of the AI Now Research Institute. 

Hasan Elahi (Moderator) is an artist whose work examines issues of surveillance, citizenship, migration, transport, and the challenges of borders and frontiers. His work has been included in exhibitions at such venues as SITE Santa Fe, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, and the Venice Biennale. His work has been covered by the New York Times, Forbes, Wired, and has appeared on Al Jazeera and Fox News. His recent awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and Creative Capital. 

Pas de Chocolat is a Honolulu-based design-build studio that aims to create thoughtful, interactive explorations that encourage discourse and reflection among participants. They work with organizations to assess technology needs through collaborative research, design and development activities. They enjoy the challenge of crafting human-scaled technology experiences in contexts ranging from work to play. 

Kyle McDonald is an artist working with code. He is a contributor to open-source arts-engineering toolkits like openFrameworks, and builds tools that allow artists to use new algorithms in creative ways. He creatively subverts networked communication and computation, explores glitch and systemic bias, and extends these concepts to reversal of everything from identity to relationships. Kyle has been an adjunct professor at NYU's ITP, and a member of F.A.T. Lab, community manager for openFrameworks, and artist in residence at STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, as well as YCAM in Japan. His work is commissioned by and shown at exhibitions and festivals around the world, including NTT ICC, Ars Electronica, Sonar/OFFF, Eyebeam, CLICK Festival, and NODE Festival. 

Lauren McCarthy is an artist based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn whose work explores social and technological systems for being a person and interacting with other people. She makes software, performances, videos, and other things on the internet. She is the creator of p5.js. Lauren has exhibited at Ars Electronica, Conflux Festival, SIGGRAPH, LACMA, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, and the Japan Media Arts Festival, and worked on installations for the London Eye and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is an Assistant Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and was a resident at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Eyebeam, NYU ITP, and Ars Electronica / QUT TRANSMIT³.


Social Hacking Workshop 
Sunday, January 7 • Noon-4pm • $30 • Register at:
Led by artists Kyle McDonald and Lauren McCarthy, this workshop explores the structures and systems of social interaction, and strategies for hacking them. How do the technologies we build and use shape the way we understand and relate to each other? We'll explore this question through a series of experiments. Topics covered include surveillance, computer vision, data and glitch, and human interfaces. No programming experience necessary. This workshop is limited to 15 people. Registration fee required. 

Watching the Watchers 
Sunday, January 7 • 4:30pm • Free • Register at:
Led by artist Hasan Elahi, this workshop addresses issues about surveillance including whether the cameras should be hidden or overt, who should have access to what the camera is seeing, and how artists and designers should engage with this ever-pervasive element of contemporary life. This workshop is limited to 10 people and is best suited for high school and college students. Registration is required. 

Film admission is $12 general, $10 museum members, except where noted (three of them are free!).

Directed by Michael Radford. UK. 1985. 113 min.
Friday, January 5 at 7pm 
Based on the prescient George Orwell novel that spawned the term “Big Brother,” 1984 presents a doublethink world where “War Is Peace” and “Ignorance Is Strength.” Winston Smith (John Hurt) is a government employee whose job involves rewriting history in a manner that casts his fictional country's leaders in a charitable light. His trysts with Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) provide his only measure of enjoyment, but lawmakers frown on the relationship—and in this closely monitored society, there is no hiding.

Directed by Laura Poitras. USA. 2014. 114 min.
Saturday, January 6 at 6pm • Free 
This real life thriller unfolds by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). 
This film screens in conjunction with Risk

Directed by Laura Poitras. USA. 2016. 97 min.  
Saturday, January 6 at 8pm • Free 
Filmed over six years, Risk is a complex and volatile character study that collides with a high-stakes election year and its controversial aftermath. Cornered in a tiny building for half a decade, Julian Assange is undeterred even as the legal jeopardy he faces threatens to undermine the organization he leads and fracture the movement he inspired. With unprecedented access, Laura Poitras finds herself caught between the motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle. This film screens in conjunction with Citizenfour. 

Eye/Machine I, II, III 
Directed by Harun Farocki. Germany. 2001, 2002, 2003. English. 65 min.  
Sunday, January 7 at 2pm • Free
Farocki’s trilogy invites us to witness “intelligent” image processing techniques such as electronic surveillance, mapping and object recognition. Images that were never meant to be seen by the human eye allow us a closer look at the relationship between man, machine, and modern warfare. 

I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts + War at a Distance 
Directed by Harun Farocki. Germany. 2000, 2003. English/German. 79 min. 
Sunday, January 7 at 4pm • Free
This documentary uses surveillance images from the maximum-security California State Prison to define the relationship between the camera and a gun. Farocki uses images of the Gulf War in War at a Distance to examine how the war forever changed the status of images.  

THX 1138
Directed and written by George Lucas. USA. 1971. 88 min. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Donald Pleasence and Robert Duvall.
Wednesday, January 10 at 7pm
George Lucas’ directorial debut, presents a cold, dystopian future in which individual thought and love are forbidden. But two citizens dare to rebel. LUH 3417, a disenchanted surveillance worker, consciously stops taking her mandatory drugs—medication that suppresses emotions—and gives placebos to her roommate, THX 1138. This event is part of Science on Screen®.

Directed by Terry Gilliam. UK / USA. 1985. 142 min. 
Thursday, January 11 at 7pm 
Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) escapes the daily monotony through a recurring daydream of himself as a winged damsel-saving hero. Investigating a case that led to the wrongful arrest and eventual death of an innocent man, he meets the woman from his daydream (Kim Greist).While trying to help her, he is caught in a web of mistaken identities, mindless bureaucracy and lies. This event is part of Science on Screen®.

Related programming 

2001: A Space Odyssey
Directed by Stanley Kubrick. USA. 1968. 161 min.
Friday, December 22 at 7pm

A puzzling monolith provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by Arthur C. Clarke. Kubrick’s influential masterwork was made before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, yet it is still plausible today. When Dr. Dave Bowman and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship's computer system, HAL, displays increasingly strange behavior, leading to a showdown between man and machine, and a mind-bending trek through space and time. 

The theater holds a pre-screening conversation about how artificial intelligence informs current trends in surveillance technology. This event is part of Science on Screen®.


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About the Honolulu Museum of Art

One of the world’s premier art museums, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents international caliber special exhibitions and features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art.

Located in two of Honolulu’s most beautiful buildings, visitors enjoy two cafés, gardens, and films and concerts at the theater. The museum is dedicated to bringing together great art and people to create a more harmonious, adaptable, and enjoyable society in Hawai’i.


Honolulu Museum of Art: 900 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House: 2411 Makiki Heights Drive
Honolulu Museum of Art School: 1111 Victoria Street
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Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre: 901 Kinau Street (at rear of museum)


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