Working title: Clandestine
Topic / Treatment & Audience
Clandestine means to keep secret or to be done secretively, especially because illicit. This is the idea that I want to employ as I present ‘stolen’ private moments from internet users in the public realm.
The idea behind the project is to expose how easy it is to hack and track people online. I will do this by hacking into remote webcam locations by sending out a virus for people to download. A friend of mine is able to write this code for me legally as I have previously run into ethical issues surrounding this. I originally had hoped to hack into random, unsuspecting individuals cameras but I quickly learnt that this was illegal. However, if the user was aware of my intention and willingly downloaded the virus then this fit into legal territory. Although they where aware of the project taking place they wouldn’t necessarily know as and when I was recording. This way of capturing the subjects means that the projects doesn’t become performative, something I want to avoid.
The purpose of this is that I want to show the audience that there is a feedback loop created by the rise of ‘selfie culture’. Making oneself a product of common knowledge has its repercussions. I plan to do this by including footage recorded from social media and snapchat, and make the presentation of this seem quite seedy and unwelcome, much like the webcam videos.
The collective of people that I am aiming Clandestine at is definitely digital natives. People that have grown up with the internet and sometimes fail to see the flaws contained in living an electrified life. As we have grown up with these digital devices we don’t realise how much information they contain about us. Our phones that we cannot live without also double as a location tracking device. Our email accounts expose our social circles to the providers and whoever else they choose to sell that information to. Our social media bio’s let any mutual friends know where we live, work, study and our current relationship status as well as many other things that we would not want to fall into the wrong hands.
Sure, the access to all sorts of information at our fingertips makes life a lot more convenient but I believe that people my age don’t fully understand what they’re signing themselves up for by accepting cookies and having open public profiles. I want Clandestine to make the audience feel uncomfortable by feeling like they’re also being watched, not just watching.
I intentionally want the topic of voyeurism present throughout. Having explicit content presented will add to the unease of the viewer as I imagine most people may feel uncomfortable viewing porn in a public space.
For the final installation of the work, I had envisioned having each of the web cam footage videos projected at a large scale against surrounding walls so the viewer is encapsulated in the middle, watching and being watched from all angles. Unfortunately this isn’t possible for the Unwritten show but if I where to have installed in this way, with the audio from the footage playing from all angles, I don’t think that the other videos, such as screen recordings and viral clips, would’ve been as necessary. I think the scale and experience would’ve been uncomfortable enough for the viewer to stand in. Although I would’ve still wanted extra kinds of filler footage to break up the banality of watching people type.
For the actual installation I will have to scale down the piece quite drastically. I only have the facility to display my work on 22” screens and although this is slightly annoying I’d rather know sooner rather than later what medium I am working with.
I want surveillance to be present in the installation of the work as well as being the topic. There will be a camera positioned high above the display screen that will live feed to another monitor placed on the wall behind the front. The idea behind this is that the viewer may or may not realise they’re being watched and even if they think they are, it will be hard to verify this as they wont be able to see if there is anyone the other side of the wall. Also, having the second screen on the back wall means that the viewer will probably have watched the whole video before they walk around the corner and realise the set up.
Skills and Resource Requirements
I am heavily relying on the participation of others for this project to be successful. I realise that it is an extremely odd thing to ask to watch someone through their webcam and most people will feel uncomfortable at granting me access. I think communication is going to be key here. I am going to let the participants verify all the footage I use and in what context I am using it for their own comfort in participating.
Research-wise, access to photobooks with similar visual concepts are priceless. I envision the project to look a very particular way but this is subject to change.
Another major element to the requirements of this project is editing skills. I am self taught in Adobe Premiere Pro and can navigate the software to get the result I want but adding extras and filters is not something I am overly confident in. In the past I have found watching YouTube tutorials fairly helpful in getting the aesthetic I want.
For the installation I will need to figure out how I can live stream to the second TV. I am fairly sure this is possible with a HDMI cable but then there is the obstacle of how to keep the cameras battery constant otherwise I will have to continually climb up and down a ladder changing this.
Two TV screens are needed for installation as well as a memory stick containing my media files.
Objectives and Outcomes
By the end of this project I hope to have created and presented a well articulated, but confronting installation piece that instills fear and doubt about what it means to live in the digital world, into the audiences mind. I want the presentation of my final piece to make the audience feel uncomfortable at the thought of being watched but I also want the video piece to distract from the fact that they actually are.
I personally want to be wiser on how to live more privately online and want to be able to share this knowledge with my peers as it is a topic I am passionate about. I think having the degree show as a platform to show my interest will definitely be the start of a discussion. I intend to do quite an informal talk during our public programme and would like to open the topic up for discussion with the audience. Seeing their opinion on the topic but also getting their feedback on any fears they have while surfing the web, and seeing if I am able to help with any of these.
I will judge the success of the body of work by the audiences reaction. I have kept the piece fairly short intentionally as to keep it within the average internet users attention span so they do watch the whole piece. I will have it playing on loop so there is not one start and end point for them to join at. Feedback I have had on the piece so far from my peers has been positive. I have also had an interview about the work featured in #photography magazine’s online blog so there has been a social media focus to spread the word.
This timetable is broken down in to very distilled notes from each individual week of this project. A full timeline can be seen on my blog visualisingtech.wordpress.com
Tuesday 10 January – Start of new module. Start to consider new ideas. Build on ideals from previous exploration but don’t rely on these too heavily – this idea was exhausted and reached its full potential.
Tuesday 17th January – Artist talks from D.Wiafe and Briony Campell. Although I appreciated both these artists talents and works I didn’t relate to them much. Interesting to hear about different photography careers and their journeys.
Tutorial with Brodie Standen – talking about viral videos and how to dissect one of these. Can there be a formula to these? Think about the pace and speed of social media.
Tuesday 24th January – Brodie artist talk. Tutorial with Gemma. Steer away from viral videos, again. Think about social political implications of the pace of social media. reality star as president?! Decide where to anchor this work. What is my impulse to share? Think about my focus rather than how this is being presented visually.
Tuesday 31st January – Workshop at uni. Wrote first draft of project proposal (see blog). Told again to move away from viral videos and move to surveillance. PLAN AHEAD have everything ready 2 weeks before deadline 9th MAY. Starting to question the viewer as part of the installation. Reflective. Feed the audience back on itself.
Tuesday 7th February- Tutorial with Matt. Talk about taking portraits of relevant people to surveillance. Don’t particularly want to go into portraiture or still imagery, moving portraits? consider this. Consider google image search. Think about surveillance through university.
Tuesday 14th February- stop thinking about end result and start experimenting with smaller projects along the way. Look at Watched exhibition. Ordered the book of this as couldn’t afford trip to Berlin.
Tuesday 21st February – One week before first formative feedback and I am still in the very early brainstorming stage. Need to get act together. Research Susan Schillupi.
Tuesday 28th February – First formative feedback. Presenting footage from CCTV cameras around the world. Kind of boring. Reconsider what I am trying to say with my piece. Get my head in the game. (Also, research paper stress hitting all time highs and being very distracting from this module.)
Tuesday 7th March – Didn’t attend uni this day as it was my Nan’s birthday, travelled to Liverpool to visit. Spent the week ignoring all uni responsibility as formative feedback left me deflated and uninspired.
Tuesday 14th March – Start again with the smaller surveillance experiments, stop thinking about final production. But still, steer away from making naff and obvious work. Speak to Adnan about dark web and see if this inspires.
Tuesday 21st March- Illegal ideas. Tutorial with Gem to work through this. Password protection. Really carefully consider the next move. Merry Alpern research. Is there a placebo effect to telling someone you’re surveilling them? How would you judge the effect of this?
Tuesday 28th March – Second formative feedback. Suggested reading – Ryan Trecartin. Question the filters added to current videos – divided opinion in the class about colour and black and white. Getting to a better place but still feeling rather uninspired.
Tuesday 4th April- Last tutorial before Easter break. If the unethical stuff isn’t working start to experiment with performative pieces. Watch Timecode (film). Think more about post-internet art – gifs. Take images at random intervals over the next few days.
Tuesday 2nd May – Made myself sick with stress about presenting for final formative feedback. Could’ve done with the cohorts opinion but wasn’t happy with the project myself, wasn’t happy to share.
Tuesday 9th May – Tutorial with Gem. Finally feel like I am getting on to the right track with my piece. Take away unnecessary extras. Add to webcam footage but don’t allow this to run for too long – gets boring.
Tuesday 16th May- INSTALLATION WEEK. Although I had planned to be finished the week prior to this, I know I am always a last minute Larry and am still working on my piece. Allow for time for this to develop but understand all the daytime will be filled with work at Fargo.
Tuesday 23rd May – FINAL SUBMISSION 10.30am AT FARGO. Dread this day.