- Art ServedProject Featured On:Art Served — 6/22/12
www.sousveillance-project.com (currently offline)
- Original Artist Statement, April 2010
Ubiquitous digitization is inevitable if it revolutionizes information, but how does Earth and human experience become richer through it? Helping inform this grand question, Sousveillance is an early draft and humble experiment seeking to mix up old notions to create new references.
Anyone may text-message, or type (at the website) some text that merges into an unformatted linear stream of words. Who wrote what, when, how, from where, is unknown. How will people anonymously collaborate between words? Will they enhance, continue, or destroy each other?
Perhaps this breakdown reveals the thingness of our digitization, like an email error that shifts us from the high-level action of sending messages to the low-level wondering of why our computer has failed to transmit 1s and 0s. I see such moments as an opportunity to rattle complacency and think critically about our digital revolution.
- Reflections, August 2010
Sousveillance received some 700 contributions during its small-scale release in 2010. I am thrilled with the interaction that took place, especially those within fofa or on St. Catherine where one could discern laughter, smiles, scowls, frowns, or confusion. Although sousveillance could have functioned as a strictly online experience I believe its importance (if any) was in the short bursts of ephemeral communities it created between fellow onlookers, passersby, and contributors.
In my naivety I released Sousveillance without any security which led to the inevitable event of malicious spam. And as per murphys law, this spam took place during the shows vernissage (Arrivals and Departures) while the Dean of Fine Arts gave his keynote speech directly facing a wall-size projection of Sousveillance. The problem with a screen full of the word cunt was less the word itself but the face that dozens of entries per second meant other people could not effectively contribute. I did not expect nor do I think Sousveillance should filter the hateful parts of society, but I do think that it should be an equally accessible to anyone at any time.
During the vernissage my solution was to hack the website on the spot so that particular words would be blocked. With more time my preferred solution today I would prefer to create a spam detection system such that one could not send dozens of messages per second among other things. Perhaps I could also replace key words with an "antonym", i.e. fuck -> love, shit -> hug, etc. but this would need more thought.
Aside from a handful of mentally impoverished individuals*, I think Sousveillance was somewhat successful insofar as it provoked unique reactions from an array of people.
* Interestingly because I was able to see which phone numbers associate with which messages (on a backend server) I had the spammers phone number and subsequently found his name but left it at that.
I would like to thank Christopher Moore, Christian Desjardins, Sean Yendrys, and Vanya Rose. In a variety of ways they supported this project from lending equipment, giving me critical feedback, helping with technical tests, promptly answering my far-too-many-emails, and just generally supporting this project. Thanks for your help and patience, I was deeply humbled by your generosity. (and Sean, sorry I didn't listen to your advice until it was too late regarding preemptive security measures against malicious spammers!).
I would also like to thank Valérie Lamontagne whose excellent design class in 2009 allowed me to begin exploring my interpretation of the term sousveillance. Without her unique project briefs and stimulating instruction on machine history, culture and its implications I would not have been driven to pursue this project.
- Inside fofa's st. Catherine vitrine
- Inside fofa
- Full transcript