Foreword | Omer Even Paz

The new Issue of Maarav is going online in conjunction with PrintScreen Festival for Digital art in Holon; together they explore different aspects of the unseen in digital culture. When looking at things from a drone’s eye view, we can see that becoming invisible involves a complex process, rather than a sole action. 

Becoming invisible does not require the Cloak of Invisibility from the world of Harry Potter or the cap of the Greek god Hades. To become invisible in our world requires a multitude of ongoing actions of fracturing and assimilations, which leads to the object becoming like mist or–a cloud. An invisible thing is not a body which cannot be seen, but a huge collection of objects, held together by an endless amount of lean connections. The unseen is a phenomenon of splitting apart, crumbling down and immersing into a state of no apparent boundaries. Strangely, the same actions of fractalization and assimilation are the ones which enable some to see the things that were beforehand invisible. 

In her latest book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff describes how the big tech companies are able to observe, record and even manipulate every aspect of our life. They achieve this by becoming present in any corner of the web and every street corner of our cities. It is exactly this omnipresence which allows those giants to become both perfect recorders and unnoticeable. Another path of invisibility, much more personal one, is being explored by Ellen O’Donohue Oddy. In her text, titled Empathetic‌ ‌self‌ ‌surveillance,‌ ‌online‌ ‌porn‌ ‌and‌ ‌neo-ekphrasis‌, she portrays how two literary characters of women in Carmen Maria Machado and Ali Smith stories, manage to find a path to an empathetic and even healing view of the world and of themselves–by watching online porn videos. Etan Nachin is giving a historical perspective to the hidden presence of Natural Language Processing (NLP) programs in our digital means of communication, and how those can affect our very ability to speak about the world. A Single Swing of the Shovel, an essay by Vera Tollmann and Boaz Levin are using recent artworks to trace the hidden physical and very much political substructure of ‘The Cloud’. In the movie essay A Place Where War Is Far and Omnipresent, Noa Wienstein follows one of the ancient manifestations of invisibility in our life – that of the deep connection between the arms trade and the art world. Throughout the four parts of the movie, it becomes clear that often, in order for the unseen to remain such – it requires our complicity. And it is the very same complicity around which the issue’s two interviews revolve–both dealing with the most observable invisible aspects of life in Israel that require the population’s tacit acceptance – the occupation and the immense surveillance system operated by the Israeli government and military to maintain it. One interview is with Issa Amro from Hebron, who describes the terrible effects of living in a constantly surveyed society. The second interview introduces Gal, a former intelligence officer who gives a remarkably clear account of the power held by so many young Israeli men and women. 

The theme image for the issue is The Night has a Thousand Eyes by the British artist Andy Holden.

Many Thanks to those who contributed to this issue becoming visible – chief editor Udi Edelman, PrinScreen curator Lior Zalmanson, chief producer Avigail Surovich, Noa shuval, Mor Levin, Shim Gil, Didi Tal, Gilad Keinan, Ruthie Weinstein, Neilia Dollar Landsman and Omer Ein Habar.