06 March 2014


woodblock print (mokuhanga)
6" x 6" (152.4 x 152.4 mm)
6 layers of color plus blind emboss on Kochi Kozo paper
edition: 20

K is for klondike. My sources say Klondike is "a control system for sensitive geospatial intelligence." 'Control system' refers to a type of intelligence known as sensitive compartmented information (SCI), a type of security clearance that is even higher than Top Secret clearance. SCI is subdivided into different control systems, and access to various control systems is granted on a case by case basis. The Klondike control system protects sensitive geospatial intelligence: physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth, and because it's classified as SCI intelligence it's the most secret of all the secrets. Really really secret.

The word Klondike also refers to the Klondike region of the Yukon in northwest Canada and Alaska where a gold rush occurred in the 1890s. I thought that the image of a prospector panning for gold was an apt metaphor for sifting through large amounts of data looking for special nuggets.

I hate that the NSA is spying on us, but as I was thinking about this image of the prospector I found myself feeling implicated in the same kinds of temptations. Really, who can blame the NSA for wanting to sift through all that juicy data? I mean, don't we all do it? Don't we all search out old friends or enemies on Facebook, or Google a prospective date or a new colleague? Are we looking at secret stuff, or just looking at what's there to look at? And don't we feel oh so powerful and smart because we have all the world's knowledge at our fingertips or in our back pocket? In a way, the NSA is just doing what we all do but on a massive — and probably illegal — scale.

This week, as I was working on this print, I read an article asserting that stores are now tracking smartphone signals in malls to follow customers' movements. It's not just the government that wants to find those valuable nuggets in the river of data. Every good capitalist wants it, too.


Melody Knight Leary said...

I'm really enjoying this series Annie. Who
knew there were "secret" connections for each letter of the alphabet!! Wonderful interpretations.

Elizabeth Busey said...

As a person who is addicted to satellite imagery, I also feel a bit guilty, like I am spying on inhabitants while I revel in their fabulous topography. I never get down to street view on Google Earth, but the resolution for many places -- including China -- is astounding. Maybe it would be OK if I just squint?

(And yes, I really like the coupons that Kroger sends me for just the products that I purchase. A quandary, truly.)

Annie B said...

Thank you both for your comments. I'm enjoying making these little prints, although as I noted on Facebook this morning, I'm deep in what I call the "sloggy middle."

Elizabeth, I know exactly your feeling about "spying" with Google earth! It's irresistible. I like coupons too, but I hate getting chased around on the internet by some corporate entity whose web site I visited once.