'The customer is king.' But does this saying also apply when during shopping you are completely screened and profiled by cameras, databases and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags? Without you knowing it and without being able to do anything about it? How kinglike is that? A short film by British video artist Chris Oakley shows a shopping mall where everyone is unwittingly reduced into a digital consumption profile: click HERE to watch the video 'The Catalogue' (2004). Will this become the shopping mall of the future? Certainly not if it were up to Privacy First to decide. After all, as a customer you should remain king, and that includes remaining king over your own 'profile'.
Many people find privacy a heavy subject. To take a more light-hearted view at things, Privacy First is pleased to show you a photograph of the American artist William Lamson. As a playful protest against the 'surveillance State', this artist made balloons float in front of surveillance cameras. Perhaps also as a metaphor? Trial balloons with better ideas for a healthy democracy? Privacy First looks forward to seeing your privacy-friendly trial balloons!
Without us realizing it, we are being filmed and photographed by dozens of surveillance cameras on a daily basis. But who are the people actually looking at us, and do those camera operators actually realize that their work forms a continuous violation of someone else’s privacy? This last question inspired the young Dutch artist Peter van de Werve (25) for his project called irProjector. The letters ‘ir’ stand for infrared: with the use of infrared light Van de Werve projects life-sized messages onto the field of view of surveillance cameras in the
Privacy First regards this art project as a brilliant initiative and hopes its message will be noticed by many.
The art project ‘© Google Privacy’ by Dutch artist Sofie Groot Dengerink will be on exhibit in the Municipal Museum of The Hague from 10 July till 21 August 2011. This art project is part of the SummerExpo 2011 dubbed ‘Anonymously Chosen’. In 2010 Groot Dengerink graduated from the Utrecht School of Arts with her project ‘© 2020’. ‘© Google Privacy’ is the continuation of this and will show a number of interiors that are visible in Google Maps, as was the case with her previous project.
© Google Privacy is a virtual street where the viewer gets a special peek into the lives of the people who live there. Fascinated by Google’s digital world and by the interaction with the analogous world, Sofie Groot Dengerink shows how far-reaching the digital invasion of privacy is by incorporating screenshots of Google Maps in her work. She wonders: ‘How much further will things go?’
Sofie: ‘‘There’s actually relatively little to be seen in the living rooms, but what if better cameras are going to be used in the future with which you can effectively zoom into those rooms, being able to actually read what is written on the account statements that are on the table... Your entire private life is literally up for grabs out on the street, with the difference that these streets can be viewed all over the world and at any given moment during the day. Street View is public territory and Google puts these images online without the residents knowing it. In the old days you used to walk on the streets at night and you could peek into the homes that didn’t have their curtains drawn, ‘so you could see how Mary had her couches arranged’. Nowadays you can safely do that at home, behind your desk.’’
‘‘Nothing stays a secret in today’s internet culture. Many people that I visited, of whom I had ‘taken a picture’ of their interior, didn’t even know that their interior is so clearly visible in Google Maps and they were alarmed by it. So some of them didn’t want to cooperate with my project, which of course is understandable. Suddenly there’s this girl standing at your front door with a picture of your dining table full of paperwork asking whether she may print and use it. You cannot yet quite see what exactly is written on those papers, but this is only still a small step away from really zooming into the living room. That’s what I’m trying to show with this research. The pictures are merely screenshots from my PC screen. I myself have put the navigation that seems to come from Google as a layer on top.’’
In © Google Privacy you just get that little bit of extra information about life in this digital parallel world (click on the pictures to enlarge):
In 2010 Sofie Groot Dengerink designed a tram with ‘Amstertram Maps’ for the Amsterdam public transport company GVB as well as an installation called ‘Digital Transformation’ for Capgemini, Les Fontaines. More work by Sofie Groot Dengerink that is characterized by the interaction between the digital and analogous world can be found at www.copyright2020.com and www.sofiegd.nl.
For a unique work of art there is no need to look any further than your own fingerprint. This is exactly what the Canadian art gallery DNA 11 realized. This gallery operates under the slogan: ‘From Life Comes Art’. Their newest product is a piece of real ‘art of life’: fingerprint paintings. Here you can have a work of art made from your own fingerprint. First you will be sent a starters kit on which you can leave your fingerprint. Then you send back the whole lot, pick your favorite colours and size, and there it is! Go to http://www.dna11.com/gallery_finger_prints.as for more information.
(Thanks to Anne van Doorn for the suggestion.)
Next to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Germany is also on its way to become an electronic surveillance State. Watch the response to this development by German video artist Alexander Lehmann:
(click HERE for this video in other languages)
Below is an extensive photo impression of the day of our Passport Trial at the Palace of Justice in The Hague. These pictures were taken by press photographer Guus Schoonewille of Fastfoto and can be used freely under the following title: "Privacy First Foundation, 29 November 2010, Trial against the new Passport Act. Photo: Guus Schoonewille". Click on the picture of your choice to see a larger version which you can download using your right mouse button.
Art photographer Maarten Tromp has made a beautiful photo series of the co-plaintiffs in our Passport Trial. Three of these photos are on the left and below in small size. A large number of pictures appeared on February 2, 2011 in Dutch newspaper NRC Next. The entire series of photographs can be seen on the website of Maarten Tromp.