“OnlyBans,” created by Lena Chen MFA ’22 and Magie Oates, is included in the exhibition “Tracked & Traced” at Michigan State University’s Science Gallery in Detroit, on view September 10 to December 11.
The exhibition opening is accompanied by a live playthrough and discussion of “OnlyBans,” presented in collaboration with Ars Electronica, on September 10 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.
Created by sex workers and allies, “OnlyBans” is an interactive game that critically examines the policing of marginalized bodies and sexual labor to empathetically teach people about digital surveillance and discrimination faced by sex workers. The Internet has long been celebrated as a limitless realm of free expression, but this digital wonderland is becoming increasingly oppressive to those who express their sexuality as part of their art or work. Content moderation algorithms disproportionately harm people who are already at greater risk of violence, incarceration, and social marginalization. Technology created to block allegedly sexual content has also been quietly used to block unfavorable political content.
The project has been supported by Polis 180, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Science Gallery Detroit, the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity Arts Contest, and the CMU School of Art Interdisciplinary Award.