“The threats we face are even more fundamental as surveillance capitalists take command of the essential questions that define knowledge, authority, and power in our time: Who knows, Who decides, Who decides Who decides?” – Shoshana Zuboff, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power”.
Either photographing actual sites of “watched environs” through extensive international travel, accessing them through CCTV surveillance systems situated throughout the world, or online via numerous media websites, the work’s intent is for developing a broadly based digital imagery bank addressing the breath and depth of our highly surveilled societies. The intrigue with CCTV surveillance systems is how their sourcing aligns perceptually and conceptually with numerous concerns and issues regarding civilian life, law and order. The rapidly expanding (un)known and/or (un)wanted penetrations of surveillance technologies into the mental and/or physical realms within our everyday being inevitably invades and reconfigures our individual and collective lives. Surveillance Capitalism is a new species of power Ms. Zuboff tags as “instrumentar-ianism”. “Its power knows and shapes human behavior towards other’s ends. It works it will through the automated medium of an increasingly ubiquitous architecture of “smart” networked devices, things, and objects.”
Actual surveillance derived imagery is often blurred, fractured, and/or loaded with “digital noise”. These characteristics are embraced visually and conceptually. This is particularly true of night time imagery. It can lend elemental degrees of intrigue and mystery. Some of this website’s images intentionally offers themselves as alternatives to highly refined digital photography so revered at present. Also, some of the images can serve as metaphors regarding the instability and precariousness of the human condition no matter how “technologically advanced” we become in contrast to the continual “dumbing down” attempts regarding our political, racial and cultural environs. The incorporation of the CCTV monitor’s front in some of the photographs is for “framing” them to heighten the socio-psychological presence of surveillance in our lives. It is also a partial take on the adage of “the medium is the message”. In the end, the photographs are intended to raise questions as to what is seen, or at times more importantly, not seen behind walls, doors, and windows. Aligned with this is why who and/or what is pictured and what are the images surveillance cameras observing and for what purposes. Other considerations could arise as to what and where are the boundaries of surveillance regarding issues of public safety and individual privacy rights along with what are the socio-psychological implications individually or collectively in a society. At times, the work questions the often hidden agendas by the powers that be through portrayals or through surveillance technologies situated in the everyday confines of our urban environs. As the artist Rene Magritte stated decades ago; “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
The emphasis of my career’s work for twenty five years was in site-specific sculptural installations, mono-prints and photography. The installations incorporated CCTV surveillance systems that monitored photographic images and/or the viewers looking at them. Since 2008, the work’s focus has shifted towards individual photographs. In 2008 and 2010, artist residencies took place at The American Academy in Rome. Their purpose was for capturing images related to the new world insertion of surveillance equipment into the old world architectural and cultural realms of Rome. Since 2011, the subsequent work has taken on a much broader approach. However, it is still highly based in surveillance oriented imagery. While the photographic representations within this website contain three images from the Rome residencies, the vast majority represent much more current work in the last five years.