Who is watching you?
surveillance camera, internet web cam feed
“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face… was itself a punishable offense.”
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5
Forms of Surveillance have existed for centuries now from the “slave passes” that allowed slave owners to keep track and control the movements of their slaves who more than likely did not know how to read or write. Enslaved people who traveled from one place to another were supposed to carry a pass signed by their owner. Those without such a pass could be arrested, jailed, and detained as a runaway. Yet the slave pass system was sometimes subverted by the rare slaves who could write, such as Frederick Douglass. These literate slaves could create their own passes and might thus gain freedom for themselves and other slaves.
In the 1920s, government surveillance spread to political radicals, especially workers trying to organize union activity. J. Edgar Hoover headed this government surveillance unit which would later become the FBI. As the 20th century advanced, computer technology proved a powerful enhancement to the regime of surveillance. This allowed most devices and databases to be monitored and evaluated, including automobiles, Your car can be tracked by GPS, and your spending habits can be seen by accessing your credit card records. Internet and email are monitored in the workplace and cameras are just about everywhere recording your every move.
This was shown during 18th st. Pilsen Open Studios 2010 @ Cobart Studio. This was also shown at Ben Russell Gallery in 2009 and you can read a review of that show here: http://mcortez.tumblr.com/post/138074518/ruse-at-ben-russell-gallery