Artist Focus 16: Justin Blinder

27 September, 2013

Justin Blinder is a Brooklyn-based media artist, programmer, and designer. His work examines how our claims of ownership, criteria for an object’s value, and ways of interacting with others have changed in the digital landscape. Justin’s projects aim to simultaneously provide usable tools and a critical analytical lens, sparking dialogues on how technology and digitization shape our social behaviors. His project Dumpster Drive, a file-sharing application that recycles digital files, helped to build a networked community of users around the ubiquitous, but understudied, digital process of deleting. 

Justin’s projects have received attention from media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the BBC, the Guardian, and Gizmodo. Justin holds a BFA in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design. In the past, Justin has worked as a team developer on the open source project ShiftSpace, served as a Research Resident at Uncommon Projects, and was recently a Resident Technologist at EDesign Labs. Justin is currently the Creative Technologist at Sub Rosa, and an Honorary Fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center.

Wi-Fi spotting

Using wireless hotspot data, Wi-Fi Spotting topographically visualizes Wi-Fi saturation in the metropolis.

Taking inspiration from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the piece questions what is imagined, and what is real, when exploring the physical formation of digital networks. The meta-data of our wireless signals float off of us along specific routes like those on a map, but the structures and architecture of our communications and technologies—our virtual skyline—are not usually seen. By highlighting how our immediate environments are saturated by other’s signals, as part of an on-going revolution of white noise, Wi-Fi Spotting aims to prompt viewers to think about the underlying social contracts hidden in geographic datasets.

At first glance, there is nothing inherently revolutionary about digital files, but once we examine the history of media digitization, the liberatory potential of data to defy their original forms becomes apparent. Casting a critical lens on our digital files raises our awareness of how states govern and surveil data, and what the power dynamics between everyday citizens, corporations, and states should look like. His projects aim to ferment such potential revolutions by harnessing digital excess— the white noise that surrounds us. The binary code of our deleted files, the components rusting in discarded printers that litter the streets, and our ignored search histories contain the seeds of future, heretofore unrecognized changes.


Wi-Fi Spotting is part of the Where are we now? exhibition opening 14th September 2013 and running until 12th January 2014 at The Collection.

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