Swipe It. Swipe It Good

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The collection of personal data has certainly become a more visible process in post-Patriot Act U.S.A, both for American residents and visitors. And it's no consolation to know that for every visible act of fingerprinting, there are even more instances of invisible archiving going on. 'Swipe,' an ongoing project by new media artists/engineers Beatriz da Costa, Jamie Schulte, and Brooke Singer documents the process of personal data collection in the U.S., shedding some light on these hidden databases. The collaborative has released a new element of the project, an online 'toolkit,' featured on New Radio and Performing Art's Turbulence web portal. Swipe's toolkit includes such handy items as a calculator for determining the value of your personal data, forms for requesting a copy of the data that private companies have collected on you, and a bar-code reader that can decipher those printed codes on the back of many U.S. driver's licenses. The project also takes the form of live performances that include a cocktail bar... because you may need a drink when you find out what 'they' know about you. -Ryan Griffis