Thesis Info

Thesis Title
DIGITAL DYSTOPIA: Exploring the Side Effects of Media, Data, and Technology
roya ebtehaj
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
San Jose State University
Thesis Supervisor
Andrew Blanton
Supervisor e-mail
andrew.blanton AT
Other Supervisor(s)
G.Craig Hobbs - Rhonda Holberton
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Digital Media Art
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
Art - Technology - Social Media - VR - Data Visualization - Net Art
Abstract: 200-500 words
We live in an era of data collection. Technology has developed to assist us in the spread of ideas and information in a highly accessible way, but it also has its downfalls. This technological revolution has created a contemporary model of digital slavery. Our digital entity is owned by corporations that push us towards materialism and consumerist ideologies in order to serve corporate interests. Similarly, totalitarian governments utilize and suppress social media to avoid any call for revolutions and reinforce the state ideology. This dissertation is an investigation of my artistic endeavors in relation to politics, culture, technology and my own personal narratives. In this MFA thesis, the first major theme I will be discussing is “Cyber Dictatorship”[1]. In a weaponized digital realm, authoritarian governments build their own advanced technologies to repress people. In certain societies, mass surveillance is an immediate threat to people’s privacy. In the case of uprisings, people’s geolocations have been captured through their digital devices, their data misused for media propaganda, and they live in a state of constant intimidation. The second major theme I will be addressing is “Plasdystopia”[2]. Social media platforms have created their own capitalist and consumerist culture that is spreading trans-nationally as they utilize user data to predict their future behaviors. Every single move we take is captured by tech giants and recycled back to us in the form of advertisements. Moreover, globalization is progressing at a rapid pace as algorithms become more advanced with the purpose of cultural manipulation. The result is non-western cultures that are being transformed into homogenous consumerist societies due to the influence of big tech. I observe the catastrophic physical impact of this digital sphere in my society and its impact on the perception of beauty. Shaped by the forces of social media culture, many people develop an obsession with the perfect body, which leads them to extreme plastic surgeries and overconsumption of western cosmetic products. The result is a horrific dystopia made out of delusional fantasies and plastic. [1] This term is inspired by the term “Digital Dictatorship”. A term that is often used to address the Chinese government’s control over people’s data and privacy through machine learning and mass surveillance. [2] This is a term I coined to address a dystopian world where appearances, values, and personalities are fake/plastic.