Signs and wonders
Rounding out Spike x Liste Expedition Monthly Picks for 2022, Geoffrey Mak finds in painter-hacker Rachel Rossin’s metaverse fables a melancholy embrace of our fractured lives.
Rachel Rossin is obsessed with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. “I like to keep up to date with what DARPA is doing,” she told me. “I like to figure out how to prepare myself for what’s coming.” We were talking about “stingrays” – briefcase-sized surveillance devices used by the New York Police Department to hack data, like phone numbers and call histories, from cell phones in the area by mimicking the functions of cell phone towers, which typically provide reception. During the Black Lives Matter protests, Rossin noticed that whenever a helicopter came close, her cell phone bars would go from one to four. As a self-taught hacker since she was a teenager, she wanted to know why: “I inverted the signal from my laptop, went through my phone, and got the MAC [media access control] address for this stingray. And sure enough, I saw where it was manufactured, and that the NYPD owned it.”
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