'Geometries of Power'
Recent developments in Internet technology have revealed a wider culture of surveillance and an increasing penetration of the state into the everyday lives of citizens on a national and global level. From the Echelon system in the 1990’s to Prism and the NSA (National Security Agency), post-9/11 anxieties relating to terrorist fears have reached new heights. Stories of whistle blowers, the Wikileak scandals and cyber spying abound in the culture of info-wars.
The Installation - The work consisted of a large cube structure made of painted wood. Plexiglass covered the holes in the structure in order to create a suggestive, semi-opaque see-though surface, almost like a stained glass window. Four interior projectors from each side of the box created a mysterious web of refracted light and meanings relating to the theme of geometry, power and surveillance. The semi-transparency is a metaphor of the porous lives and identities created via social media and the bizarre voluntary and violated nature of privacy abandonment. A condition where the dialectic of public and private has collapsed, and the boundaries between inside and outside oscillate. Social transparency and intrusion have replaced past formations of public and private spaces.
‘Geometries of Power’ evokes the theories of Henri Lefebvre and Marshall McLuhan’s similar notions of geometric structures and the technology of perspective that controls space as opposed to natural and organic spatial layouts. The arcane and mysterious history of the use of geometry for emblems and signs of hidden power is a long one. From masonic cyphers, illuminati triangles, religious symbols, pentagon shapes and geodesic domes (GCHQ in the UK), the Prism system evokes connotations of prismatic light effects. This also involves social refractions, mis-direction as a chimera hall of projected mirrors. Jeremy Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’, which was an architectural surveillance prison plan in 19th Century Victorian England, is another reference that evokes the idea of power and control of space under the surveilling gaze of political and governmental agencies.
The existence of a media created climate of conspiracy and threat from the NSA net surveillance system also acts like a Panopticon, only in the modern high-tech situation, citizens self-censure and watch what they post and say. We aimed to create a mysterious atmosphere to communicate a mood of the invasion of privacy, and the transparent lives of citizens via social net-working in the ‘new media military complex.’
Performance - The live performance was based on the themes and meanings implicit in the installation. We also added new aspects to the work as it developed. The projection was on the white cube, and a live camera feed of the audience was fed into the performance so they could be seen from inside and outside. Sound was generated live along with the imagery. We planned to create an atmosphere of mystery, with the use of an audio collage of sound-bytes relating to themes from the media, pop-culture, news and governmental sources as well as historical and contemporary references.
Imagery: Kelley McClung, Jim Gladman, Alessandro Imperato
Sound Design: Alessandro Imperato
Sculpture Construction: Jennifer Gladhill to