#rp17 Speaker: Julian Oliver

We present you Julian Oliver as the next #rp17 speaker: artist, critical engineer, archer and Berlin resident. We’re welcoming the native New Zealander back as a speaker to the re:publica for the second time now. You, the audience, will also be in demand during his talk at the re:publica dealing with radio components and infrastructure – this won’t be a straightforward lecture by any means!

The Critical Engineering Manifesto is here to help anyone who may have just stumbled over the term “critical engineer”. In it, Julian Oliver, together with Gordan Savičić and Danja Vasiliev, calls for a critical reflection on technology. The manifesto has since been translated into 17 languages. From the get-go it makes clear that they understand engineering to be the most important transformative language of our time, whose influence should be studied and questioned. The challenge and the goal of every critical engineer should to understand technology instead of merely using it. Which dependencies are created through our sometimes blind enthusiasm for technology? Julian Oliver demands constructive distrust. For him the discussion about technology must go far beyond the issue of utility.

His workshops and lectures deal with a range of topics including data forensics, creative hacking, counter-surveillance, augmented reality and information visualisation. The relation to critical engineering runs through all of his projects and can also be found in his artworks. The “Transparency Grenade” makes it possible to anonymously stream audio material and network data out of closed meetings or conferences and depict them online on a public map. In doing this, he denounces the lack of political and corporate transparency. Along with Danja Vasiliev he developed the “Newstweek” project making it possible to manipulate the news read by users on wireless hotspots through employing a small, innocuous device built into a wall plug. Newstweek shows how easy it can be to disseminate fake, aka alternative, facts and thereby influence public opinion. His new piece "Stealth Cell Tower" addresses the practice to disguise technology such as cell towers as a part of the natural environment (for example as a tree). The projekt copies this approach to raise awareness for technology in our surrounding infrastructure by using a inconspicuous printer to surveil mobile phone users. Mobile phones, which connect to the printer's net, receive messages and the users, who reply, start a conversation with an unknown number. With this project Julian Oliver demonstrates the profound security flaws of regular cellular service.

You can expect an interactive talk with Julian Oliver at #rp17. So stop by and be a part of the intervention and engage in a critical contemplation of engineering!



Image credit: Peter Langer