While preparing for SOMETHING MACHINE’s residency at Seoul Dance Center and researching on the themes of observation and surveillance, i came across the exhibition Watched! Surveillance, Art and Photography, a collaboration between the Hasselblad Foundation, Valand Academy, Kunsthal Aarhus, Galleri Image, ARoS and C/O Berlin.
Watched! is part of a research initiated by Louise Wolthers, Head of Research at the Hasselblad Foundation. It reflects on the complexities of contemporary surveillance, with a specific attention to photography. The works in the exhibition convey different approaches to surveillance: from technologies used by state and authorities to everyday monitoring practices that have become an integrated part of our lives, especially within social media.
Our entire existence is being photographed and visualized to an unprecedented degree. This raises new questions about voluntary and involuntary visibility, as well photohistorical issues of watching and being watched. The artists in Watched! appropriate imagery and apply CCTV, Facial Recognition Technology, Google Street View, life-logging and virtual animation. They also reactivate older practices of spying, exposure and voyeurism. Conceptually, they probe issues of security, which are used as arguments for enhanced surveillance, but which often ignore the discriminatory scrutiny, criminalization and vulnerability that follow. The viewer is invited to think about how we can live in a society of multiple surveillance networks without contributing to the inequalities that surveillance produces, and instead engage in inclusive and empowering viewing practices.