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Surveillant Spaces: From Autonomous Surveillance to Machine Voyeurism

ISEA 2011 Istanbul
The 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art
14-21 September 2011

http://isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu/panel/surveillant-spaces-autonomous-surveillance-machine-voyeurism

This panel explores surveillant spaces from the point of view of the machine. What does it see? Why does it look? And how does it respond? It will both critically and playfully investigate the performative potential of the machinic gaze and the agencies and materialities involved.
Chair Person: Petra Gemeinboeck, Rob Saunders
Presenters: James Coupe, Michelle Teran

Our everyday environment has become a patchwork of surveillant spaces; interlacing our social networks and mobile devices with CCTV systems, satellite and other wireless signals to produce an endlessly growing network of ‘nodes’ with never-sleeping eyes. As machine agency grows more complex we increasingly become accomplices of the voyeuristic spectacle. While each surveillant space may have different motives and targets, all of them serve as more or less autonomous prostheses that extend, enhance or proliferate the human eye. But what happens if we push the question of ownership of the gaze to a point where the machine’s agency of seeing not only augments the human eye but becomes independent, generative and capable of producing its own narratives?

This panel explores surveillant spaces from the point of view of the machine. What does it see? Why does it look? And how does it respond? It will both critically and playfully investigate the performative potential of the machinic gaze and the agencies and materialities involved. To do so, we will engage with artistic practices that enact the politics of surveillance through performative interventions to experiment with and push the contested realities they produce. Exploring machine vision and computational agency, we will discuss the potential for the machinic gaze to develop a disposition towards what it sees. A surveillant space driven by curiosity, desire and perhaps complicity both playfully subverts and critically extends Virilio’s (1994) dark vision of the ‘automatic-perception prosthesis’.