We communicate, we memorize and read, we look and listen, we publish and share. Several times a day, we look at small and large screens, carry mobile devices in our pockets or on our wrists, and thus move through the net. On the go with a smartphone in the bus or streetcar, at the computer in our workplace, in an internet café at the beach, or with our notebook in the privacy of our own home—the net accompanies us through life and effects how we live. With all the digital steps we take, whether consciously or unconsciously, we leave traces.

Regardless of whether we’re engaging in interpersonal communication in social networks, inputting queries into search engines, sending/receiving SMSs and e-mails, checking out websites or uploading photos, displaying a retailer’s loyalty program card or remote-regulating our home heating system, getting hooked up in the internet of things with objects (no matter how unprepossessing) or being filmed by a game console, entering a travel destination or taking our own pulse, stepping onto the scale or keeping count of our paces—we’re surrounded by digital data, and the sources at which these data originate are becoming ever more numerous.

Big Data—huge and complex quantities of information are combed through, analyzed and combined with each other at tremendous speed. Clouds—in enormous server farms, we store our personal data in order to be able to access it from any location. Government agencies, corporations and others insinuate themselves into this surfeit of information—they know what we like, where we’re located, who we are. Surveillance cameras recognize human faces, sensors register our actions, systems crack our passwords in fractions of a second and abduct our digital self.

The internet poses quite a challenge when it comes to protecting every individual’s privacy. The artists whose works are on display in this exhibition aim to make us cognizant of what direction we’re heading in this digital world, and to point out what we perhaps haven’t considered while we’re enjoying the benefits of being linked up in a worldwide network. It’s up to us to see to it that all of this doesn’t get out of control.

An exhibition produced jointly by the Ars Electronica Center and the Department of Secure Information Systems at Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences’ Hagenberg Campus.