What right do governments, corporations, and individuals have to collect and retain information on your daily communications? What tools—both today and in the past—have been used to monitor your activities? What are the immediate and far-reaching effects?
These questions unite the nine bodies of work selected for the fall 2014 exhibition “Watching You, Watching Me.” This upcoming installment of our Moving Walls documentary photography series explores how photography has been used both as an instrument of surveillance and as a tool to document, expose, and challenge the impact of surveillance on civil liberties, human rights, and basic freedoms.
The projects were selected through an open-call process, and we were inspired by the range of ways documentary artists are tackling the challenge of using photography to visualize something that is both omniscient and covert. Many projects we received highlighted the technologies and mechanisms that enable surveillance, while others focused on the activities of governments, industries, and corporations that are creating and employing such tools. Some projects were international in scope, while others explored the theme from a very personal point of view.
There were a range of artistic approaches, from appropriating existing imagery (for example from historical archives, networked CCTV cameras, or Google Street View), to using surveillance-related technologies in the image-making process, and employing more traditional documentary language to capture fleeting historical events.
The nine artists and projects selected are as follows:
“Watching You, Watching Me” will be open to the public at the Open Society office in New York from November 4, 2014 to May 8, 2015.