Stop the Spies – An Interactive Privacy Installation by James Theophane

Stop the Spies
Art & About, Sydney. 19 SEPT – 12 OCT 2014 2014
in collaboration with Luca Lonescu & Celina Stang (aka Neon Nomads)
Live Streaming / LED Fabric
Made possible by Holler Sydney, Nylon and stopthespies.org


 
This year the organisers of Art & About, Sydney invited artists from around the globe to pitch ideas exploring the “endangered – the ‘at risk’, the threatened, the exposed and the risky from all perspectives“.

I chose to take this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the eroding privacy of our digital lives. This was especially topical as Australia was putting a motion through the senate to retain 2 years of every citizen’s metadata.

To bring this to life I worked with Neon Nomads and Holler Sydney to create giant all-seeing eyes, envisioned as stark symbols of the government’s threat to online privacy.

We installed these in Hyde Park, the heart of Sydney’s CBD and the centre of the Art & About. Each ‘eye’ was linked to a ‘spy-station’ situated away from, but within line of sight of it’s linked giant eye.

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Each station had a voyeuristic-looking scope attached, and the surround-environment was designed to ensure the passer-by understood peeping in to the scope live-streamed their eye to the giant conical LED installation.

However the stations served a greater purpose.

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Looking through the scope not only live-streamed the viewer’s eye to the installation, but using a two-way mirror system we were able to present the user with information about the proposed changes to online surveillance legislation, and urge them to visit stopthespies.org. and take a stand.

 

On 3 October 2014 the bill was passed by the Senate allowing the government to spy on it’s citizens, but not without a clear warning; we’re watching you, watching us.

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