PrivacyWeek 2021

PApTCHA: Partially Automated private Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
2021-10-30, 12:00–12:45 (Europe/Vienna), Stream
Language: English

PApTCHA, is a project that formally exists in the design interface of Google’s reCAPTCHA test. The content includes unique pieces of language artworks that act as a commentary on the ubiquitous phrases that online users encounter in the context of digital privacy.


PApTCHA, or: Partially Automated private Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, takes the design elements from Google’s popular reCAPTCHA test (the Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) and turns it into a main-menu-meets-landing page for the collection language artworks featured in the piece. Specifically, viewers visit these pieces by clicking on the individual squares in the PApTCHA interface. Once inside a page, viewers encounter a term or phrase that is commonly used in digital privacy contexts online. Some of these include: “accept,” “agree,” “allow,” “block,” “continue,” “do not sell,” “do not track,” “I understand,” “your presence on this site,” and “was this information helpful?”

The theoretical foundation for PApTCHA begins with a process of decontextualization into re-contextualization. By pairing UI terms with their IRL linguistic counterparts, the project engages in a critique of digital privacy settings. In doing so, PApTCHA aims to expose the ways users opt to forgo a certain level of privacy in order to visit their preferred sites and to have uninterrupted experiences online and to undercut the notion that one has agency or choice when “managing” these settings.

To see the current state of the project, please see here: https://thelaob.com/a0/paptcha/index.html

** Project by Qianxun Chen and Meredith Morran

Meredith Morran (she/they) is a writer and video artist based in New York City. Meredith earned bachelor degrees in both Modern Culture and Media and Literary Arts from Brown University. Meredith now works as a freelance editor and videographer and previously as Triple Canopy’s Associate Video Producer. Meredith also received a Fulbright Research Grant in 2020 to travel to the University of Coimbra in Portugal and conduct research alongside students and faculty in the Materialities in Literature Programme, which is expected to commence in the fall of 2021.

Qianxun Chen is a digital media artist, coder and researcher, she works at the intersection of language, art and digital technology, with a focus on digital textuality, generative poetics and the aesthetics of algorithm.