Panopticon

A surveilling installation that confronts the audience with the panopticon of digital age

Highlight: Communication Arts 2019, Interactive shortlist

Collaboration - Tong Wu & Barak Chamo

 

In the age of mass surveillance and commoditized information, we are all, willingly or not, constantly watched. Our devices, online presence, transaction history and even physical presence have become an asset for social network, world governments and corporations to own - we live in a digital panopticon devoid of consent and, in many cases, even awareness. As in Bentham’s architecture, the watchman’s all-seeing eye keeps us from misstepping and policing ourselves.

Through Panopticon, we've created an experience of being both the "observee" and the "observer". It is a critique and a wakeup call to the alarming prevalence of mass surveillance all around us, to how tracking and surveillance devices have become largely invisible to us and to how insensitive we have become toward privacy invasion. 

Inspired by the system of control of the same name, we created the project “Panopticon”, an interactive media sculpture that breaks the illusion of privacy and control of our digital identity and physical presence. Multiple camera rigs monitor users throughout the exhibition space, tracking and capturing faces, and collecting the facial data to be projected on a semi-torus sculpture.

 

 

BILL OF MATERIALS

HARDWARE
  • laser-cut modeled foam core

  • Acrylic thread

  • Apple Mac Minis

  • Logitech c920 webcams

  • LG Short-throw projector

  • DMX spotlights

SOFTWARE
  • Vectorworks

  • Max/MSP

  • MadMapper

  • Adobe Premiere CC

  • Amazon AWS Rekognition

  • OpenCV

  • Python 3