Sorting Daemons

Kathleen Ritter (2006) 'Hidden Camera'

After the excellent opening seminar over the weekend, the exhibition, Sorting Daemons: Art, Surveillance Regimes and Social Control is on at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario, from 16 January – 18 April. The exhibition features works in a range of media-including painting, photography, video, installation and responsive electronic art-by artists Brenda Goldstein, Antonia Hirsch, David Kemp, Tran T. Kim-Trang, Germaine Koh and Ian Verchere, Arnold Koroshegyi, Ruthann Lee, Michael Lewis, Jill Magid, Walid Ra’ad; Kathleen Ritter, David Rokeby, Tom Sherman, Cheryl Sourkes and John Watt.  There is also a special video program, which draws on artists’ tapes produced over the past two decades. This exhibition extends off-site with presentation of Kathleen Ritter’s Hidden Camera at the Union Gallery in Queen’s University’s Stauffer Library until March 9.

The curators, Jan Allen and Sarah E.K. Smith, are also interested in having the exhibition go on tour in future, and would like to hear from galleries who might want to host the show. I’ll pass on any such inquiries…

Surveillance Image of the Week No.4: Being Invisible

David Lyon sent me a reference to this wonderful Dutch artist, Desiree Palmen, who makes painstakingly painted or modelled invisibility disguises to comment on the ubiquity of video surveillance. They are somehow more beautiful for their hand-crafted (as opposed to high-tech) nature. For the picture below, her technique was to take a photograph of the interior and then paint it onto a canvass designed to be worn by the subject, who was then photographed again wearing the painted canvass in place.

Surveillance image of the week 3: remembering One and Other

One and Other, Anthony Gormley’s remarkable populist and popular participatory artwork, which enabled 2400 ordinary people to spend an hour each on the vacant fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square, ended recently. Not surprisingly, given London’s reputation as a the surveillance capital of the world, there were some pointed reminders. This ‘plinther’ spent her hour dressed as a CCTV camera looking at the watchers and the watched…

CCTV plinth protest
CCTV plinth protest

(thanks to Eric Stoddart for this)

Ever fancied global domination?

The always interesting Very Short List draws my attention to a neat bit of web design cum surveillance art installation: the Henchman’s Helper. Designed by Joel Friesen, it is a window onto some deranged mind bent on global domination, showing a retro atompunkish console on which are displayed over 40 feeds from satellite mapping applications, webcams and weather channels. What’s more, the code is Creative Commons-licensed so anyone can adapt it to their own evil purposes!

This is all good fun but it also brings to mind something I reported on last year, so-called ‘surveillance in a box’ products (see the article in New Scientist), integrated data-fusion systems, combining automated searching and cross-matching of data from multiple sources, such as Siemens and Nokia’s joint venture into so-called ‘Lawful Interception’ Intelligence Platforms. This could lead to powerful multifunctional surveillance, including things like telephone monitoring being available to nations with dubious human rights records, private corporations and even wealthy individuals as the cost of such packages comes down. This will make what Greg Elmer calls ‘personal information economies’ into private intelligence services for some…

'Lawful Inerception' by Siemens / Nokia
'Lawful Inerception' by Siemens / Nokia