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Black Transparency: The Right to Know in the Age of Mass Surveillance


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Black transparency is an involuntary disclosure of secrets against a backdrop of systematic online surveillance, as large parts of contemporary life move into the digital realm. Black transparency, as a radical form of information democracy, has brought forward a new sense of unpredictability to international relations, and raises questions about the conscience of the whistleblower, whose personal politics are now instantly geopolitical. Empowered by networks of planetary-scale computation, disclosures today take on an unprecedented scale and immediacy. Difficult to contain and even harder to prevent, black transparency does not merely create openness, order, and clarity; rather, it triggers chaos, stirring the currents of a darker and more mercurial world. 

In Black Transparency—part essay, part fanzine—Metahaven (founded in 2007 by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden) embark on a journey of subversion, while examining transparency’s intersections with design, architecture, and pop culture, as well as its ability to unravel the circuitry of modern power.

With contributions by media theorist Benjamin Bratton, intellectual property specialist James Grimmelmann, programmer Vinay Gupta, information activist Smári McCarthy, self-described “hacker” Eleanor Saitta and architect Liam Young. 

Designed by Metahaven

Published by Sternberg Press, 2015

Softcover, 288 pages, ca. 100 illustrations, 5.04 × 7.87 inches

ISBN 978-3-95679-006-5