眼><见 The Watcher >< The Watched
杨扬 Yang Yang, 余佳浩 Kaiho Yu, Dana Cuff
As the city becomes increasingly “intelligent,” so grows the imperative to cautiously recognize the technologies that we are relying on for our collective life. Public cameras and the data they collect, for security or traffic coordination, compose an omniscient and predictive sensor network that enables high-precision simulation and feedback control over the everyday environment while allows no return contact. Here, we inquire: What is the role of citizens in a fully tech-equipped city? Is each citizen just one indistinctive pixel on his/her commuting way that could be represented in two dimensions on a monitor? Are they merely sliding into the big data that ultimately make the decisions for themselves? Is there any last battlefield where the politics have not yet ended with the hyperreality?
This project ventures that the relationship between the watcher and the watched is not a closed one but transgressible for cultural debate as indicated by the symbol “><” borrowed from art historian Miwon Kwon to refer to the complex relationship between an artwork and its situated context. “The Watcher><The Watched” suggests that the masses can regain their power under the gaze of the omnipresent camera by interrupting the one-way system. Our installation responds to our inquiries with a heterotopic space on the screen, the emergence and the evolution of which are triggered by the curiosity of human-camera interactions. The looking back to the impersonal gaze by the individuals—intentionally or not—would be caught by the camera and lead to a series of political alternatives on the screen, fictional but pertinent: a flash mob or a tug of war on the platform at the Futian Railway Station, and pop-up ads on the diverse socio-cultural activities in the surrounding area pushed to targeted audience. The on-screen plot will be thickening with the intensity of the gaze back—the amount and length of eye gazing, in which way to critically incorporate the audience in the practice of seeing and to give life the otherwise anonymous living.