In documenting this phenomenon, the first impression is that the apparatus of the surveillance camera carries an inescapable and uncanny quality. Pictorially and precisely, its images connote the so-called ”state of exception,” a condition within law when all rules and all laws are suspended. It is the state of exception that underwrites the state of emergency, under which so many places have fallen.
While the security camera is intended to protect and police, the public webcam takes on the outward form of entertainment. But more disturbingly, these streaming images are utilized today to underwrite regimes of power, where normal rights of privacy are permanently suspended.
“Mass Surveillance” collects images from all over the world: a kindergarten in Japan to the streets of London. Insofar as these images were gathered from the Internet, “Mass Surveillance” presents the apparatus of the traditional surveillance camera in its contemporary iteration, the webcam. Thus, the final images take on the distortions of the device while pushing them further, emphasizing digitalization, pixellation, and the very process of being (re)photographed.
Given the physical ubiquity of such cameras today—and add in their footages’ presence on the Internet—and we arrive at a moment where the state of exception is no longer an exception, but a universal."
- taken from Gaia Lights website
The Mass Surveillance series is a systematic sampling of thousands of publicly accessible webcams, which for very different reasons offer free, live-streaming services and broadcast a range of activities that cover private and public space, urban and domestic environments, and seemingly remote and/or wild landscapes worldwide. The series is composed of still photos shot with a digital camera through the screen of a computer while attending freely accessible webcams' live-streaming sessions on the Internet and aims to question the increasingly intricate connections between privacy rights and surveillance needs in the post-9/11 world.
For years I have been documenting all sorts of streams, freely available and easily accessible on the Internet, photographing all kinds of extremes and weird practices happening on surveillance cameras and distributed online, for God knows what reason.
I have always been intrigued by the perpetually increasing extent of the popularity of this phenomenon, recognizing a lack of information and, more importantly, of specific and adequate regulation or accountability.
The Internet is a gigantic planet, some would say dark planet, and as any other communal experience needs limits, boundaries, and rules in order to healthily and democratically function. Technology is certainly faster than the legislator nowadays, but this should represent an incentive to confront the problem, not an excuse/alibi to remain passive.
I believe in the power of visual knowledge and in the progressive force of photography as an important tool to raise consciousness and inspire reflections and actions toward positive changes within the regulatory apparatus of the Internet, especially when related to surveillance practices and abusive interpersonal relations.
The Mass Surveillance series is focused on the limits and dangers of the Internet as ideal platform for the broadcast of everyday life, much of which occurs without the subjects or the participants ever knowing they are conscripted “actors” in a strange carnival.
This Series is for all of the unaware victims of abusive surveillance practices in the hope that my efforts will suggest/inspire a change in the way the Internet’s wilder practices are perceived today by the majority of aware and unaware citizens and above all by sleeping legislators.
At some stage, I would like to try and manipulate my images to have this kind of appearance to see how they work and how it changes the meaning.