Sousveillance & Sophie Calle

[Week 5] White reviewing the ctrlspace.zkm.de website, I came across the work of several well know artists who explored the surveillance concept. The work of the french artist Sophie Calle caught my attention. She often explores the ideas of watching and being watched using photography. In one of her series, she follow a complete stranger(called Hnri B.) and track him everywhere possible as a detective.

Unlike detectives that does it for a clear purpose, Calle uses the spy imagery(blurry photos,  telephoto lens, black&white hight-speed film) and photographing techniques of state control to questions the boudaries of public space.

In a latter project, Calle played the opposite role when she unanimously hired a private detective to track her night and day. She carefully noted everything she did during the days,to then compared her journal to the observer’s reports.

By working in such process, Sophie Calle raise interesting questions on Souveillance. If everyone would document all the life of each others, we wouldn’t have much private space left. Because such surveillance techniques and efforts require time and matterial, we might think that such mechanism are first of all available to the one who disposes of a monetary advantage.

However, today technologies are widely available to westerns countries. Monitoring data in top-down fashion used to require a lot of efforts for each interesting peice of informations found (think of phone-line monitoring). But now, analyzing emails or online behavior can be done much more efficiently at very low cost. For the few things¬† that still can’t be analysed by a computer, we can also count on other users input to filter the content. Think of how facebook use its users to “tag” faces in photos, or how we can “report spam message” or “flag inappropriate photos”.

Sousveillance is a 2.0 surveillance concept driven by user’s peers. In most case however, the power od this data doesn’t goes back to the community but to the owner of the communication infrastructure.



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