Redacted Mic: The Power of Anonymity

To view the artwork, click on this link. Viewing on a computer is advised. Artist's note: Having spent all of my Junior year studying abroad in New ...

Nov 11, 2015

redactedmic

To view the artwork, click on this link. Viewing on a computer is advised.

Artist's note:

Having spent all of my Junior year studying abroad in New York, I was very excited to attend this semester's first iteration of Open Mic, a long-living tradition of this school where an open forum is provided for anyone to come up to the stage and sing, dance, read poetry or do just about anything. This time, Abhijai Garg, one of the MCs at Open Mic, introduced a new platform through which the audience could post their comments about the performances using Google forms. The MCs of the event would pick out a couple of comments and read them out loud to the audience. I felt like this allowed a connection to form between the people that were on stage and the viewers. What I later found out was there were quite a number of very "open" comments. Although it was still a public space, the promise of anonymity allowed people to use this chance to say anything, and I mean anything, about what they thought about what was happening in front of them.

I decided to take the opportunity to apply censorship to these comments, because I felt that people of this school would never have said these words to the performers face-to-face — or so I would like to think. By redacting, my intentions were to make these comments supposedly safer for the public space. The words that I chose to redact are completely based on my personal standards and they have been replaced with "█" characters. Names of specific individuals have been replaced with smiley face icons.

I found myself doubting that I had achieved my original intentions after looking at the censored version of the text. Does the censorship of profanity make the text less profane?

This work has been made using Processing.

Audio credit to Isabelle Galet-Lalande.

This work was a pick of the editor-in-chief's and published outside of regular Creative desk schedule. 

Jiwon Shin is staff illustrator. Email her at [email protected] 

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