- Northern Spark - http://2011.northernspark.org -

Security Gate 26.11

Metal detecting security gates, such as those used during airport screening, are the sites of discipline leveled against the body. As recognized by Michel Foucault, on our bodies converge various mechanisms of control, as issued by the State, biomedical technologies, and capitalist pressures. For your normal traveler, airports have become sites of inconvenience and embarrassment, because of full body scanners, “enhanced” pat-downs and lengthy waiting times. But for those who are profiled because of their ethnicity or political views, airports are sites of humiliation and indignation. This discipline is justified because airports are liminal spaces where the normal right to privacy is increasingly in suspension.

Security Gate 26.11 is an Arduino-based, interactive, electronic art work that detects wireless emissions given off by individuals, including cellular and smartphone transmissions, wifi, bluetooth, RFID, and others. Security Gate 26.11 produces individualized audiovisual responses to these transmissions. Our lives are subjected to daily forms of surveillance via mechanisms that are not recognizable to us as such precisely because they are not visible. Today, wireless transmissions are the corpus of control and repression, as evidenced by sophisticated governmental systems of mass surveillance and snooping (Carnivore and its variants) and corporate monitoring (data-mining and software recommendation systems).

By our participation in information networks (including cellphone usage, online browsing, email, SMS and others), we actively volunteer information about ourselves to forms of governmental and corporate surveillance. Security Gate 26.11 renders visible these invisible mechanisms of discipline and control and reveals our participation in possible tyrannies of our own creation.