With this, I thought of making a link to the nice work being carried out by some members of LAVITS (Latin American Network of Surveillance, Technology and Society Studies) in the DroneHackademy, a project led by Fernanda Bruno and Pablo de Soto.
With the sudden mushrooming of these unmanned flying machines around the world, mainly meant for military actions (according to Rudolph Herzog, currently in the US, there is almost 1 drone for every 3 manned military aircraft), it’s good to see some people using it on the other way around, somehow “subverting” its surveillance/monitoring/military nature. According to their own definition, DroneHackademy:
“is a prototype of a hacktivist school, citizen science laboratory and critical theory platform for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a social technology.”
Day 57: Jeremy, “look up to the sky and see”… Drones!
Another day (without timelapse feed), another citation to Lapham’s Quarterly issue on “Spies”, and a funny section called “conversations” with extracts by Charles Dickens and Edward Snowden.
Day 56: “Every grade of society has its appropriate and peculiar spies” (Charles Dickens)
Another message based on Lapham’s Quarterly issue on “Spies”, this time from an ironic post on “instruction from the F.B.I.” I got ironic too!
This time I was surprised by the presence of two lovely young “collaborators”, holding a picture of me. They have been following this project and guessed the time I would appear with the message. Believe me, this was not previously arranged or staged. How cool is that?!
I wonder where did they get those hats from…
Day 55: “If you see something, say something” (F.B.I.)… can’t hear you Jeremy!
Inspiration today came from an interesting article by Lynn Stuart Parramore on the Lapham’s Quarterly, a suggestion posted on twitter by David Murakami Wood…
In her text, Parramore discusses how new labour biometric tracking resembles old forms of workplace surveillance from the dawn of capitalism. He cites Jeremy Bentham (and his influential brother, Samuel Bentham) to show how the panopticon had an impact on the creation and development of Taylorism as an instrument for productivism through a better shaped and “optimised” labour force (physically and mentally). New surveillance and control bionic technologies are meant to make workers, as Parramore titles her article, “happy all the time”, and obviously more productive!
Day 54: “A person watched is a person transformed” (Lyan S. Paramore)
[thanks to D.M.W.]
No timelapse video from the Panopticam project today, so picture’s resolution is not great.
Obviously, this message was inspired by a phenomenon increasingly common in today’s urban world. Privatised areas with public pathways or of public interest (in some cases even previously owned by public authorities and sold or subject to concession as an agreement) have been mushrooming in medium and large cities around the world. London has been an attractive target to this kind of managerial practice for years and there are several areas of interest of the public around the city signposted as private land (see picture below).
Private property, Regent’s Place (London)
These places are usually carefully monitored by private security personnel and rely on a great number of (many times very visible) surveillance and security technologies. Contracts and regulation restrict the number of activities that are and are not allowed in these areas. Group gathering, skate boarders, and long stays of certain individuals are among the “most feared” occurrences, and therefore commonly prohibited. There are many articles on newspapers and journal papers about this controversial option for the viability of urban land renovation. The Guardian published many of these (here, here and here), and also tried to build a database of privatised publicly used areas in the UK. This debate is also very alive around the building permissions for a private garden bridge, to be built between Temple and the South Bank, in London. As part of the agreement, if the plan goes ahead, visitors “will be tracked by their mobile phone signals and supervised by staff with powers to take people’s names and addresses and confiscate and destroy banned items, including kites and musical instruments.”
Fear of “the other”, or fear of “the unexpected” are common motivations for flooding these areas with exaggerated security and repulsive/aggressive behaviour. Today’s message was influenced by this kind of treatment to areas of public interest, implying that this is the same as to deny public space in its essence, and therefore to renounce the city.
Day 53: Privatised and securitised public areas deny the unexpected and renounce the city!
Today’s message was inspired by a recent article on The Guardian about 2015 Paris attacks, questioning the balance between security/surveillance and what they called “France’s love of liberté and fraternity”.
Indeed, I think authorities and ordinary citizens should be more open to debate how much of our rights to privacy and anonymity we are prepared to compromise for an alleged safer world. This is exactly what organisations such as Privacy International and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been doing for years…
Day 52: How much of your rights are you ready to give in for security?
Who is watching whom? Is Jeremy kept in a prison cell like case, or is this his watch tower? I’ve posted a message questioning this before, and am just expanding the possibilities now…
Day 48: Do you feel disciplined in your own prison cell, Jeremy?
[thanks to L.S.]
Timelapse video is back to normal… well, at least from the 17/12/2015!
A little message about one of the most comprehensive surveillance devices of our time, Facebook.
Day 46: “Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine” (Richard Stallman)
I delayed this post on purpose, as I was waiting the video of December 16 to appear online. So far it hasn’t come, so I decided to write this. I just find it weird that this happened. The picture below shows Panopticam channel on YouTube and the only missing part of most recent videos is the one on the 16/12/2015…
Well, yes, it can be a technical fail (I asked one of the project’s coordinators, will see!), but right on the day I showed a quote by Ed Snowden? Anyway, the message was:
“Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free.” (Ed Snowden)
Day 45: no videos on the 16/12/2015
Ideal day for asking questions about codes, digital technologies, big data, and privacy. After leaving my message, I run straight to Somerset House to see the inspiring exhibition Big Bang Data. It’s definitely a must-see!
Day 43: In a digital and codified world, do we still have any privacy, Jeremy?
[thanks to D.T.]
A different visit today, surprised by the presence of Elaad Yain, who apparently knew about the project and kindly volunteered to be in the picture with today’s message.
By the way, the message was an allusion to the live discussion around the references to the massively surveilled world we live in. Is it better referred to Kafka, Orwell or Huxley? This interesting debate can be followed here and here.
Day 42: Is our broadly surveilled world a “Kafkaesque” or “Orwellian” world? (www.bit.ly/kohsurv)
We are, to the eyes of the computational and communicational systems that control most of today’s transactions, a combination of numbers and our identity (and what we do with it) is dependable on these numbers. It’s nearly impossible to “hide” from the codification as almost all the activities of our contemporary way of life are mediated by this dematerialization of people, actions, human agency, into codes in a specific system.
The network capabilities of information and communication technologies, with the possibility of having systems and devices talking to each other (IoT), and the world-wide spread use of social media, makes anyone of us a “mobile surveillance device”.
Forget about big brother, we now have little brothers. According to Zygmunt Bauman (Liquid Modernity, 2000), “Whatever else the present stage in the history of modernity is, It is also, perhaps above all, post-Panoptical”.
Day 41: We have all become “mobile surveillance devices”, Jeremy!
[thanks to M.K. and Lavits]
This was a message to try and call attention to my public lecture on the same day for the Situating Architecture seminar series. The lecture was great with good attendance and clever questions at the end. Thanks to the situating architecture people and all those who attended!
Day 38: Splintering surveillance and new forms of territory (www.bit.ly/urblab)