z5059436 Gerry Lin Blog Post 3

Surveillance art

Surveillance art has been utilised since the availability of portable video cameras and closed circuit television, but has been more greatly utilized by intelligence agencies after the events of September eleven 2001 and has been expanded to include monitoring through internet use as well as the traditional CCTV cameras. Surveillance art seeks to question and critique the morality of being surveyed for the sake of safety

The work Surveillance Chess by the artist collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik utilises surveillance technology to play a game of chess with security staff in London. The work is commenced when the artist brings in a yellow suitcase and hijacks a surveillance camera and asks the security staff to play a game of chess with them. This work reverses the roles of the surveillance system to allow a person normally being seen by the cameras to interact with them and communicate with someone that normally only observes. This paradigm shift of causing interactivity between the relationship of a viewer and a person being viewed is used to criticise the invasive nature of surveillance by reversing roles the security system is itself questioned.

The work zoom pavilion is an interactive installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer which utilises surveillance cameras to question the nature of surveillance and how one conducts themselves when they are viewed by these systems. The work consists of a series of surveillance cameras placed in a large room, the cameras will zoom in randomly on audience members and will follow them for a short time, the footage is then projected into the front wall where all participants can see each other being vied by the system. The installation questions our relationship to security system and how people may conduct themselves differently when they are being watched by both the cameras and the people around them

The work Exhausting a crowd by Kyle McDonald is an interactive website where users can post annotation on surveillance footage filmed across 12 hours in London and Amsterdam. The works allows users to interact with surveillance footage which they are normally not permitted to see and by annotating the various people, cars and events during a given day they question what the security services are thinking while they are trawling through the several hundreds of people that a surveillance camera sees in any given day. This provides greater insight into the nature of surveillance through it interactive elements and internet sociability.




Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2016). Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – Project “Zoom Pavilion”. [online] Lozano-hemmer.com. Available at: http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/zoom_pavilion.php [Accessed 28 Oct. 2016].


McDonald, K. (2016). Exhausting a Crowd. [online] Exhaustingacrowd.com. Available at: http://www.exhaustingacrowd.com/london [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016].


Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwbitnik.org. (2012). !Mediengruppe Bitnik | Surveillance Chess. [online] Available at: https://wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.bitnik.org/s/ [Accessed 28 Oct. 2016].


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