Marek Tuszynski

8 minutes read | First published: September 27, 2023

Marek Tuszynski, Executive Director and co-founder of Tactical Tech, is an artist, designer and curator working at the intersection of technology and activism. Marek is also a filmmaker, producer, teacher and provocateur whose creative interventions span media from film and radio to television, books, exhibitions, public spaces and the web. For 30 years, he has worked at the intersection of technology and politics, information and activism, and the consequences of living in a quantified society. In 2023, Marek was recognised by Mozilla Rise25 Awards as one of the artists and visionary leaders actively shaping a more ethical, responsible, and inclusive future for the internet.

In the nineties and before co-founding Tactical Tech in 2003, Marek oversaw the development of the Internet for education, medicine and marginalised communities in Poland while working for a local foundation. He also co-founded organisations dedicated to creating a circular economy of electronics (The Second Hand Bank), documenting contemporary art in post-communist countries (International Contemporary Art Network Association), and rapid technology response in crisis (The Raft).
Headshot of Marek Tuszynski, 2021
Headshot of Marek Tuszynski, 2021
Before becoming Tactical Tech's Executive Director, Marek was the organisations' Creative Director. Under his leadership, Tactical Tech's team co-developed thought–provoking and forward-looking experiences, interventions and educational offerings that invite people to reflect critically on how technology impacts our lives and the way we understand and respond to urgent challenges like the climate crises, pandemics and social polarisation.
While at Tactical Tech, he co-founded Tactical Studios, a creative client-services agency that worked with campaigners, NGOs and other organisations to help them use information to push for social change. Marek co-curated the exhibitions and public interventions Nervous Systems: Quantified Life and the Social Question (2016), The Glass Room (2016 - ongoing) and Everything Will Be Fine (2022)that engaged hundreds of artists, technologists, designers and researchers across the world. In 2020, the Glass Room won the Creative Review's The Annual 2020 award.
He also co-authored the books Visualising Information for Advocacy and Efficiency And Madness. His latest piece, There Is Plastic In The Clouds, looks at how technology defines, determines and shapes the way we perceive our role in the world under crisis and its limitations. It includes examples of how technology can be used as a tool of hope, to fix the fixable, to make escape plans, and to decide what roads society can take to get to a better future than the one we see being predicted.
Marek is a regular lecturer and workshop leader at many universities and schools, including the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA, Baltimore), DensityDesign at the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, The Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm), New York University (Berlin), North Eastern University (Boston) and many more.
In 2020, Marek Tuszynski and Stephanie Hankey were selected to be part of the artists-in-residence of the Geographies of AI program at Onassis Stegi. The project 'Technologies of Hope & Fear', created in 2021 as a result of the residence, was recognised in 2022 with a Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention.
Marek defended the right to encryption as an advisor on Article 19 at the UN session supporting David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion at the UN in Geneva. He also served as a member of the Technology Advisory Board to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
In 2023, Marek was recognised by Mozilla's Rise 25 Awards as one of the artists and visionary leaders actively shaping a more ethical, responsible, and inclusive future for the internet.The five artists recognised, including Tuszynski, “are being honored for creating innovative and thought-provoking digital artwork, using the internet as their canvas to inspire others and re-think what's possible online”.

A selection of Marek's work

co-curated exhibitions

  • Nervous Systems: Quantified Life and the Social Question. It looks at how the enormous amounts of data captured by billions of sensors from our everyday communications and movements are transforming our behavior, as well as our understanding of self and society.
  • The Glass Room. A public intervention that aims to demystify technology through immersive, thought-provoking, self-learning exhibitions.
  • Everything Will Be Fine.A public intervention that explores how people understand and respond to global crises like climate change and pandemics through the lens of technology.
  • People interacting with the pieces of The Glass Room exhibition
    The Glass Room exhibition across the world. Photo David Mirzoeff 2017
  • Opening event Everything Will Be Fine outdoor exhibition, 14 Sep 2022. Picture by Andrea Rossetti.
    Credit: Opening event Everything Will Be Fine outdoor exhibition, 14 Sep 2022. Picture by Andrea Rossetti.

Books, essays and other writing pieces

  • There Is Plastic In The Clouds. A piece that looks at how technology defines, determines and shapes the way we perceive our role in the world under crisis and its limitations. It includes examples of how technology can be used as a tool of hope - making us work to prepare for the unexpected, to fix the fixable, to make escape plans, and how we would agree which roads to take to get to a better future than the one we see being predicted
  • Visualising Information for Advocacy. A book about how advocates and activists use visual elements in their campaigns. This 160-page guide features nearly 50 case studies from around the world to provide an introduction to understanding visual information and a framework for using images for influence.[Co-authored]
  • Efficiency And Madness. Using Data and Technology to Solve Social, Environmental and Political Problems. This essay is a kind of call to action to experts from different disciplines, and to techies and non-techies alike, to find different ways of thinking about data-driven technologies and how they change the way we live.[Co-authored]
  • Exposing the Invisible- The Kit. A collaborative, self-learning resource that makes investigative techniques and tools used by experienced investigators more accessible to people and communities who feel motivated to start their own investigations, collect and verify information, build evidence and create a better understanding of issues without losing sight of ethical or safety considerations.[Co-authored]
  • 12 Exposing the invisible: visual investigation and conflict. This chapter included in the book 'Image Operations: Visual media and political conflict' by Jens Eder (ed.), Charlotte Klonk (ed.), looks at how artists and activists are utilising still and moving images combined with simple digital technologies to investigate political conflicts.[Co-authored]
  • "Technology is Stupid": How to Choose Tech for Remote Working. This text addresses questions about which tech is good, safe and appropriate to use in these complex times if we want to act and work responsibly and remotely. How do we decide which technology we should trust? It also discusses what could be done in the future to make answering this question much easier than it is now.
  • Signs, Symbols and Other Visual Clues. A piece on how to investigate or aid your investigation by exploring visual signs or symbols, especially in cases where very little direct information is visible, available or accessible.
  • Chimeras: Inventory of synthetic cognition. This volume attempts to disassemble and reformulate what one might understand as AI by taking apart both notions of 'artificiality' and 'intelligence' and seeing what new meaning they produce when recombined.[Co-authored]
  • Adventures in Mapping Digital Empires. A piece covering what it takes to better understand and visualise Big Tech's impact on society and how to think about narratives and formats that engage and stimulate critical thinking. Readers can learn more about provocation design.
  • Data Scavengers. This text provides some examples of how to deal with unreliable, fragmentary, imprecise, random, unpleasant, hypothetical, risky and dubious data sets and how to work through them in order to yield interesting results and stories.
  • Some Marginal Notes About The Dark Sides Of Data. Part of Visualising for Advocacy. A piece covering and questioning the power of data.
  • Picture of the Visualising Information for Advocacy book
    Picture of the Visualising Information for Advocacy book
  • Picture of the Efficiency And Madness Essay
    Picture of the Efficiency And Madness Essay

projects led collaboratively

  • GAFAM Empire. A project developed in collaboration with DensityDesign Lab that looks at the known acquisitions conducted by five big tech companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, which sectors they expanded to, what types of know-how they absorbed, and in fact who they actually are besides who we think they are.
  • The Opinionator. An exhibition piece included in the exhibition "Democracy in Progress" organised by Futurium, Berlin. Visitors get to know three common tools that are used to influence people in the digital space. Knowing about it will help visitors recognise manipulations and form an independent opinion.
  • Technologies of Hope & Fear. A curated collection of 100 data-driven, machine learning, and AI-enabled technologies around the world: developed, marketed and implemented to mitigate the pandemic and to help societies ‘get back to normal’.
  • Screenshot of the GAFAM Empire project
    Screenshot of the GAFAM Empire project, 2023
  • Illustration of the Technologies of Hope and Fear project by Ann Kiernan
    Illustration of the Technologies of Hope and Fear project by Ann Kiernan

films

  • From My Point of View. 'Investigators-in-the-making' investigating issues ranging from weapon supply routes in Syria's 'YouTube conflict, urban land grabbing inpost-conflict Beirut and how DIY aerial mapping can expose and challenge power relations in Jerusalem.
  • Our Currency is Information. Learn about methods for investigating corruption and organised crime. You will meet Paul Radu from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, one of the most inspiring investigative reporters from Romania.
  • Unseen War. Exploring the physical, political and moral invisibility of US drone warfare in Pakistan
  • Exposing the Invisible Explainers (sketches). A series of videos to help you get started with some common investigation topics. Short videos introducing some of the main topics explored by Exposing the Invisible, from safety and evaluating evidence to web archiving, investigating companies and thinking critically about maps.