roaming video network installed within various architectural sites
camera setup in an office building, Kista, Sweden
Parasitic Video Network, overlaid upon an architectural space, such as an office building, shopping mall or park, is a live video installation of 25 low-range wireless video security cameras that temporarily transforms an everyday space simultaneously into a media space. It becomes a gaming environment or live film set that is explored by moving through it. On the border between surveillance and observation, it is poetic, subversive and surreal in its design. The video network is set up to observe different architectural spaces that populate cities, to highlight their characteristics and affects on the body. Non-places of super-modernity (Auge), such as IT cities, hi-tech office buildings, airports or shopping malls and areas transformed through revitalization and/or gentrification are some interests for study.
To explore the environment the visitor carries a portable device called The Parasitic Video Interceptor (aka The Spy) that captures and records live feeds from surveillance cameras and augments them with a sound scape that is generated by the visitor’s movement through the architectural space. The walk through the space does not involve a preset itinerary nor fixed duration but is dependent on the person who carries the device. The video that is viewed is based on ones proximity to a camera. As a visitor approaches a camera, then this video appears on the monitor. As the visitor walks away and towards another camera, then the video switches to the next. The visitor controls the narrative that is generated by moving through the environment, but the cameras also control how the one moves through the space. This creates strong link between the viewer and space that one occupies and creates a renewed experience of how we perceive and navigate through everyday spaces. The person entering this environment becomes an explorer and voyeur of both space and oneself.
a cluster of cameras before being installed on site at the Electrum House, Kista, Sweden
exploring the Parasitic Video Network in the Jardin de Saint-Roch, Quebec City, Canada
video documentation from Parasitic Video Network, installed in Stadtcenter Rolltreppe, Halle, Germany
In his book “Parables of the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation”, Brian Massumi describes much of our movement through space as ‘modulations’, conducted absentmindedly, on auto-pilot and guided by different tropisms like memories, habits and other external stimuli. Vision functions as a type of reference, or self-reflection, for our mostly unconscious movements, by generating landmarks or markers for where we are. A distinction is also made between ‘mirror’ and ‘movement’ vision, where a ‘mirror’ vision is described as how one sees oneself, such as in front of the mirror, while ‘movement’ vision becomes how others see you, that is in motion. Being able to view oneself in motion, creates a displacement of the subject-object mirror view and creates a new experience in self-reflection.
These bodily experiences of moving through space, as described by Massumi, are exemplified in our interactions with contemporary architecture and also through media spaces created by communication and audio / visual networks, found both within online gaming environments and urban surveillance systems. Glass façades, long, winding hallways, tunnels, escalators and elevators within shopping malls, office buildings, airports, subways, etc, create situations of fragmentation, dislocation, transparency, disorientation, alienation and passivity. Anthony Vidler, professor of Architecture at Cooper Union, New York, refers to these characteristics as ‘The Architectural Uncanny’. Gaming environments and surveillance allow the body to be viewed from different angles and create out-of-body experiences.
still from Jacques Tati’s ‘Playtime’
(left) image of myself using a wireless surveillance camera (right) image of myself in Second Life
The Parasitic Video Network incorporates the technological system of surveillance, a common feature within contemporary architecture, installed to monitor flow and behaviour of individuals and which, through their use, introduce discourses of power and control. Other spatial qualities of surveillance are not necessarily contained within these discourses. Qualities of temporal and spatial disruption, absence, fragmentation and disembodiment are also included within encounters with these systems. Parasitic Video Network utilizes the complex spatial situations created by these systems, to highlight the different ways that body and space interact, by creating a situation where these interactions are experienced in a non-conventional manner.
Parasitic Video Network has so far been installed in three different locations, an office building located in the middle of Kista, Sweden’s ‘Silicon Valley’, within a shopping mall in Halle, a small city in the former east Germany and a public park in Quebec City.
Produced at The Interactive Institute through an artist-in-residency within the Art & Technology Program.
Funding provided through an Alberta Creative Development Initiative grant – Canada Council for the Arts.
Hardware design: Yoshiyuki Akai
Software programming: Erik Sjödin
Leatherwork: Gustav from Läderverkstan, Stockholm