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Exposing geographies and politics of digital power through creative intervention

Authors: Pip Thornton*, University of Edinburgh
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: algorithms,art,digital,geography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Digital power is manifested in many different ways, with technologies such as AI, image/voice recognition, algorithmic systems and digital advertising exercising often unforeseen political power over our everyday lives. Some forms of this power are more visible than others, affecting people in different – often asymmetric ways. Much recent scholarship – in Geography and beyond – has been instrumental in theorising and demonstrating how digital power operates in terms of privacy, surveillance and algorithmic governance, but this paper takes this further – exploring how the geographical and political power of digital technologies can not only be exposed, but also subverted and resisted through creative intervention. Drawing on a diverse and growing number of critiques and visualisations (e.g Bridle 2016; Crawford & Paglan 2019; Graham, Kitchin, Mattern & Shaw 2019) as well as the author’s own work (2018), this paper explores the impact and effectiveness of creative intervention in exposing and mitigating the power that digital technologies can hold over people and places.


Bridle, J. (2016). Algorithmic citizenship, digital statelessness. GeoHumanities, 2(2), 377-381.

Crawford, K. & Paglen, T. (2019). Excavating AI: The Politics of Training Sets for Machine Learning. AI Now Institute [].

Graham, M., Kitchin, R., Mattern, S. & Shaw, J. (2019). How to Run a City Like Amazon and Other Fables. Meatspace Press.

Thornton, P. (2018). A critique of linguistic capitalism: Provocation/intervention. GeoHumanities, 4(2), 417-437.

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