Roopa Vasudevan

Rapid Response Fellow 2020 - 2020

Roopa Vasudevan is an American visual artist, computer programmer and researcher, currently based in Philadelphia.

Roopa’s work uses data and technology in order to interrogate or subvert social and cultural practices, focusing on issues of human identity and agency in the digital era; power relationships and how they manifest through technology; and coming up with more creative and ethical practices for tech-based art and design. She has exhibited internationally in Belgium, China and the United States, and been featured on Reuters, Slate, Hyperallergic, Jezebel, Complex, The FADER, PBS NewsHour, Public Radio International, and more, as well as on American, French and German television.

Roopa’s work has been supported by the Philadelphia Area Creative Collaboratives (Haverford, PA); SOHO20 Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); the Arctic Circle Residency (Svalbard); China Residencies; SPACES (Cleveland, OH); and Flux Factory (Queens, NY). She is currently a member artist at Vox Populi, a 30+ year old collectively run arts space in Philadelphia.

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

I am designing a practical toolkit for creative resistance through techbased art. It will be based on a theory I’m developing called “strategic transparency”: the notion that critical tech art relies too much on overt revelation and exposure, and that we might instead think about what change we can effect by blending into the background in key ways, and taking advantage of conformity. In Phase 1 I will be facilitating a collectively written manifesto for the goals of this approach, as well as developing blueprints for several projects that use its principles.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

This project presents an alternative, future-oriented way of thinking about the aims of critical new media art practice. I am concerned by the ways that this laudable work often becomes folded into furthering Silicon Valley’s agenda; it is my hope that by developing new mechanisms for creative refusal, artists can eventually break the cycle of co-optation and dependency, and use our practices to actualize the structural change we so desire.

What does the future look like to you?

Owned by all, safe for all, and accessible to all.

What is your grounding ethos?

Art and politics are always intertwined.