‘At this year’s Venice Biennale, one of the most important contemporary art exhibitions in the world, artist Simon Denny used the New Zealand Pavilion as a platform to investigate the visual language of America’s National Security Agency. He commissioned a design from a former graphic designer and art director at the NSA, David Darchicourt, to illustrate various security-based themes… without telling him of their intended use.’
An inspiring idea from the artistic side of security, an undervalued and geekified area, usually identified with computer engineers lacking in creativity.
In reality many IT experts are game and sci-fi movie fans and you barely find anybody in IT that remained unmoved by Lord of the Rings or an AD&D rulebook.
IT, and especially cyber security, even have a blooming vocabulary of fantasy-inspired expressions, from the various service daemons of Unix based operating systems (i.e mail daemon) to magic sounding company names like FireEye or Stormshield.
Also, security people have always been attracted to mythological symbols of protection such as runes or mythical creatures (just take the name of Microsoft’s choice of default authentication system Kerberos). I even noticed once that an anti-virus company used the trio of red targeting laser points of Predator warriors to symbolize a cyber attacker in a commercial.
Symbolism of security is strong because it needs to demonstrate authority, power and the capability of defense. It is in people’s psychology that they are attracted to anything radiating power and protection. It is no coincidence that physical security companies are all dressed up with shields and falcons to suggest safety and vigilance.
Illusion and magic is another domain mainly used for symbolizing hackers and cyber security professionals working wonders with IT systems.
So I was not at all surprised by the pictures and artworks used by the NSA, they only prove that even bureaucratic officials turn to real cybersecurity pros when in need.