Commissioned by The Shed


This work was made possible by funds from The Shed, VIA Art Fund and Hotwire Productions LLC


Shadow Stalker, 2018-2021                                                                                          

Agent Ruby ’s EDream Portal - 2002

Still from Shadow Stalker featuring January Steward as the Spirit of the Deep Web, 2019.

“Algorithms are the titanium white of this era’s painting.  They are the undercoat that hide culture’s negative spaces.”

Shadow Stalker is a “live” interactive installation that uses algorithms, performance and projections to make visible private Internet systems like Predictive Policing that are increasingly used by law enforcement and promote racial profiling.

Shadow Stalker exists in three parts:

  • A film which outlines the history of Predictive Policing, Digital Identity Theft and the dangers of Data Mining, featuring Tessa Thompson and “The Spirit of The Deep Web,” played by January Steward. (TRT: 10 minutes. Full credits list here.)
  • An installation which creates digital shadows of participants displaying personal information about them retrieved from internet databases with the use of just their email addresses. Programmed by Mark Hellar and Rachel Rose Ulgado.
  • A Predictive Policing website created by Francis Tseng that shows the percentage of predicted crimes by zip code. Link to the website here.

Shadow Stalker will next be exhibited at The de Young Museum, from February 22 – October 25, 2020, as part of the Uncanny Valley exhibition. More details here.

The work was first exhibition in late 2019, as part of the Manual Override exhibition at The Shed, New York. See below for reviews of the exhibition and Lynn’s work, and watch a film about the development of the installation here.


November 8, 2019 New York Times

With ‘Shadow Stalker’, Lynn Hershman Leeson tackles internet surveillance

Ms. Hershman Leeson hopes to give visitors to the Shed a chilling sense of their own vulnerability to this kind of data-mining. When they enter the installation they’ll be asked to enter an email address, setting a simulation of the Predpol algorithm into motion, fetching biographical data — names of friends, loved ones, old addresses — that ultimately spits out a data shadow that appears behind them.


December 13, 2019 4 Columns

Manual Override, Police Algorithms, Art Molecules: a group exhibition interrogates technology and control.

Hershman Leeson’s Shadow Stalker, newly commissioned for this exhibition, has multiple components, all focused on the troubling use of digital algorithms by the police—including a film narrated by Tessa Thompson, star of the HBO reboot of Westworld, which explains how such methods often reinforce, rather than reduce, bias against people of color and the poor.


December 27, 2019 ARTnews

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Shadow Stalker tells us about ourselves

At the Shed, viewers are invited to enter their email address, and Hershman Leeson’s algorithm fetches chilling results: old home addresses, the names and prior locations of loved ones. It’s a creepy work about the uneven power dynamics that guide the way we use digital technology—and an instructive one about the dangers of putting too much information into our beloved machines.

Agent Ruby ’s EDream Portal - 2002

Tessa Thompson and Lynn Hershman Leeson. © Pamela Gentile

Agent Ruby installation, 1998–2002
DiNA, Artificial Intelligent Agent Installation, 2004
DiNA, Artificial Intelligent Agent Installation, 2004

Stills from Shadow Stalker, 2019.