Friday, November 30, 2007

Artful Looking

Spiritual siblings of Richard Ross's Architecture of Authority, several artists are working in the medium of citizen surveillance. I'm sure there are many more than are presented here, but Wired has collected 12 of their favorites in The Art of Surveillance. I'd particularly like to see Adam Rifkin's film Look (that link goes to a NSFW trailer which will start playing immediately, with clangorous music), and I thought the personal space indicators were cool, although it would be far more interesting at cocktail party, for instance, than on a 12x12 floor panel.

Synchronously, I'm currently reading William Gibson's latest novel, Spook Country, where one axis of the plot revolves around some people in the business of "locative art." This involves creating virtual images of events or other scenes, and then placing them at particular GPS coordinates. For instance, you could see River Phoenix passed out on the sidewalk near a club in Hollywood. Folks with the right equipment (VR helmets) can go there and see the thing. Everyone else is totally ignorant to it. It's a neat concept, and like most things in Gibson's books, it is almost certainly a real thing, already happening, or will happen. Possibly because he wrote about it.

And, further synchronicity, or maybe I'm just subconsciously culling the universe at this point, like finding money on the ground after hearing that people find money on the ground all the time... Reuters is running this article about using the GPS in your cell phone to find the nearest public lavatory in London. Which seems great, if you're in a hurry to heed the call of nature. But it's kind of creepy if you think too long about how They Know Where You Pee. I suppose ultimately that sort of demand/response interaction with public facilities (of all kinds) could lead to better targeting of money spent on improvements and signage. If there's one specific street corner in London where people are always checking for the nearest loo, maybe it needs a sign...

I find myself wondering if this is just part of the process of society getting the constant surveillance assimilated? Or if it's actually opening a door to a deeper level of surveillance, something on the order of microchipping your children, implanted medical histories, passports, and so on. Probably that door is already open, and soon a convoy of trucks will be driving through it.

Another Sky.

1 comment:

Rufus said...

Again take it with a grain of salt, but I've read before that younger people don't really get the problem with surveillance since they're used to everyone having a webcam anyway.