Project by Allison Greenwald
h(id)den, a studio art thesis in typography and graphic design, explores the conflicting desires to share and obscure personal data. While making identifying information accessible is vital to communication and transactions, a pervasive discomfort surrounds its dissemination.
In my work, I investigate this tension by implementing a number of different systems of encryption, each designed to represent 400 characters of my personal information including my ATM pin, bank account numbers, birth certificate number, credit card number, driver’s license number, fake driver’s license number, frequent flyer numbers, garage code, height, passport number, phone numbers, insurance policy number, social security number, student id number, and zipcode. The eight systems of encryption are presented in a variety of media, including a 23-foot wall installation and a series of seven laser cut “prints.” The shadows created by the work, which is hung a few inches off the wall, suggest the digital trail we create throughout our lives.
In an attempt to reexamine digital encryption methods, the systems of encryption I created are inspired by the character’s original encoding in Roman and Arabic typography. By taking the original encoding of my information and reimagining it in a new form, I hope to draw attention to the relationship between language, meaning, typography and encoding.
Viewers are encouraged to experience sharing their personal data through an iPhone app, also called h(id)den, that encodes twenty-five characters of their identifying information in one of these systems and provides a platform for dissemination. The varying ease and anxiety of this data entry process provides an important moment of self-reflection for the viewer, who at this moment, experiences the vulnerability of the artist.
Allison Greenwald is a graphic designer who recently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University with a BA in Studio Art and Sociology. Her work explores typographic systems and large scale wall decoration. As the recipient of the Mortimer Hays Brandeis Traveling Arts Fellowship, she is currently living, studying, and collaborating with wall painters in South Africa, Lesotho, Ghana and Burkina Faso.