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The importance of having a voice during the age of sonic surveillance.

By Foteini Vergidou

Biometric recognition technology, such as facial and speech recognition, uses our biometric data and constructs our identity, age, gender, emotional state and many more, in order to profile us and target us with products and services. While billions of users perform daily thousands of Google searches, Google is also searching on them. The rise of surveillance capitalism over the last two decades went largely unchallenged. As Shoshana Zuboff, author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power” argues ‘Surveillance capitalism is an assault on human autonomy and a threat to democracy.

How alarming is sonic surveillance in a technologically male-dominated society and how discrimination can reappear in artificial intelligence systems? What does our digital future look like? Could poetics be a possible way for us to understand the machines?

Kyriaki Goni’s latest film Not Allowed For Algorithmic Audiences (2021) focuses on the use of artificial intelligence, personal voice assistants and the importance of the voice. The artist integrates into a fictional narrative the current wealth of research on artificial intelligence, automated voice systems and the relationship between humans and machines into a fictional narrative. Here, a digital voice assistant analyzes digital voice systems and their relationship to racial and gender bias, social inequalities, as well as surveillance infrastructure and the climate crisis.

Kyriaki Goni, Ferocious Urbanites, Foteini Vergidou, Sofia Kokkali

Just before being shut down, an Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) exhibits odd behaviour. It is a very hot week in August in Athens, and the IPA called "Voice" borrows an avatar to introduce themselves to the users. During their length of operation, the digital assistant has managed to scan the entire contents of the Internet and gather all sorts of information—information that they long to share.

For a brief period of time every day, for seven consecutive days, the Voice goes into a fragmented monologue and talks about their skills, their ancestors, their anatomy and origins, about voice and its significance. They reveal data regarding the listening infrastructure, as well as the social dysfunctions and bias on which their programming and training are based. Just before they reach the end of their monologue, in a final effort to reconcile humans and machines, they share tips with us on how we can manage to not be heard.

Kyriaki Goni’s solo exhibition “Not allowed for algorithmic audiences” will be on view during the Gallery Weekend on KVOST - Kunstverein Ost in Berlin. The work was developed within the framework of the Ars Electronica ArtScience Residency founded in 2021 by the Art Collection Telekom in collaboration with Ars Electronica to promote critical, artistic engagement with digital technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and digital control and surveillance.

The work is now part of the Art Collection Deutsche Telekom.

Kyriaki Goni, Ferocious Urbanites, Foteini Vergidou, Sofia Kokkali

Kyriaki Goni, Ferocious Urbanites, Foteini Vergidou, Sofia Kokkali

Kyriaki Goni, Ferocious Urbanites, Foteini Vergidou, Sofia Kokkali

Kyriaki Goni, Ferocious Urbanites, Foteini Vergidou, Sofia Kokkali

Ph: Kyriaki Goni, Not allowed for algorithmic audiences, video stills, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.


Dates: 28.04.2022 - 21.05.2022

Curated by Nathalie Hoyos & Rainald Schumacher

Location: KVOST - Kunstverein Ost, Leipziger Str. 47, Berlin

More info:


Research, concept, text, direction: Kyriaki Goni

Voice & model for 3D character: Sofia Kokkali

3D animation: Chris Ioannou

Sound editing: Aris Delitheos

Opening image: Giorgis Gerolympos

Voice & model for 3D character: Sofia Kokkali

3D character modelling Konstantinos Lianos

Sound design: Agelos Pascalidis

Studio recording: Tone Studio Athens

Translation & subtitles Yourtranslator

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