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Award-winning filmmaker Shalini Kantayya brings gallery talk about corrupt technology to Cortland

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  • Staff Report 

Award-winning filmmaker Shalini Kantayya will bring her knowledge of the dark side of technology to a Gallery Talk titled “Coded Bias: How Human Prejudice Creates Corrupt Technology.” 

Her presentation will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at SUNY Cortland’s Dowd Gallery.  

It’s a rare chance to meet an accomplished, award-winning filmmaker on campus face to face, according to Jaroslava Prihodova, director of Dowd Gallery, which is located in the Dowd Fine Arts Center at the corner of Prospect Terrace and Graham Avenue.

“Shalini Kantayya is an accomplished filmmaker with a strong history of notable and award-winning projects,” Prihodova said. “Unfortunately, we often don’t have a chance to meet creatives behind the camera and ask direct questions. This event provides a unique opportunity for students and visitors to meet Kantayya and interact in person.” 

Kantayya’s Gallery Talk begins at 5 p.m. in Brown Auditorium in Old Main.  

Gallery events are free and open to the public. 

Kantayya’s recent documentaries, “Coded Bias” and “TikTok Boom,” will be screened ahead of the lecture, each examining the algorithms used — and abused — in day-to-day life. Sleek, silicon promises of ease and entertainment have also brought with them pressing concerns about privacy, bias and public surveillance.  

“TikTok Boom” will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6 at Dowd Gallery.  

The second film, “Coded Bias,” can be seen at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, in Brown Auditorium. 

Coded Bias” was released in 2020 and questions whether liberties are in danger if the technology that runs the modern world is itself programmed with the unconscious bias of its creators. It was shown nationwide on PBS’ Independent Lens before it reached a worldwide audience through Netflix in 2021. The film was nominated for a Critics Choice award and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary.  

Kantayya’s “TikTok Boom,” released this year, explores the rise of the popular social media app and the conflict between the culture of its global Gen-Z userbase and the data surveillance inherent to its use. It will debut on Independent Lens on Oct. 24. 

“The lecture demonstrates that our world is built to the image of its creators without consideration for all of its inhabitants,” said Prihodova. “We often submit to constructed conditions without a second thought. 

The screening of “TikTok Boom” will take place at 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Dowd Gallery, Dowd Fine Arts Center, Room 106. “Coded Bias” can be seen at 5 p.m. Oct. 10 at Brown Auditorium in Old Main. Kantayya’s Gallery Talk follows on Oct 11, taking place at in the Brown Auditorium at 5 p.m. 

The films and lecture are related to the current exhibition at Dowd Gallery, artist Beth Livensperger’s “Runaway,” which itself examines the impact of rapid technological change. Prihodova says it’s part of Dowd Gallery’s goal to take on tough topics and spark useful conversation.  

“Exhibitions organized by the gallery are carefully selected to fulfill the educational mission of the Art and Art History Department and provide space for questions, inspiration and a respite from the ordinary,” she said. “We want to offer thought-provoking shows that stimulate and further the education of all visitors, not only students.” 

 Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday or by appointment. 

“Runaway” is partially funded by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Provost’s Research Fellowship at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. SUNY Cortland support includes the Art and Art History Department, Art Exhibition Association, Cortland Auxiliary Services grant, Campus Artist and Lecture Series, Communication and Media Studies Department, Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee, School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, Economics Department, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, Haines Fund, President’s Office, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs’ Office, Student Government Association.