Surveillance as (dark) art – the Static Obesity Logging devive

Paul Raven @ 26-07-2008

Benjamin Males\' Racial Targeting System in actionAs a contrast to my earlier post about the cyclist panopticon being a positive manifestation of the potential of ubiquitous surveillance, here’s a project from the Royal College of Arts in London that rather neatly illustrates the flipside.

According to we-make-money-not-art, the Static Obesity Logging device:

… can be installed almost anywhere. The casing of the innocent-looking device conceals a computer, digital and analogue inputs and outputs and a camera. The system is able to remotely calculate Body Mass Index and communicate the data via wired and wireless networks.

Given recent hints from the UK government (among others) that they may start legislating against obesity, this is pretty Orwellian stuff. But the other of Benjamin Males’ projects is even darker – it’s a Racial Targeting System.

The [RTS-2] is a fully portable real-time image-processing platform that has the ability to automatically find and follow faces and then analyse and store their race data.

I guess we should be thankful that we’re seeing these devices being made by artists as a commentary on current affairs rather than reading about their deployment on the streets where we live.

That said, one can’t help but worry that what has been implemented by an art student is very likely to have been at least conceived of by our terror-fied governments. [story originally spotted at Hack-a-Day; image borrowed from Benjamin Males’ website]


ONLY THE NECK DOWN by David Reagan

Jeremy Lyon @ 01-07-2006

David Reagan‘s “Only The Neck Down” is the kind of story that lands a heavy narrative punch with a few well-placed images. You know how when you like the beginning of a story, you start worrying the writer’s going to screw up the end? David doesn’t.

A word of warning: this story contains explicit sexual imagery, so avert your eyes if you’re a young ‘un or overly sensitive.

Only The Neck Down

by David Reagan

Adrianna loved cool fall evenings without a hair-disturbing breeze — perfect weather for donning a warm and fuzzy sweater. She picked the pink one, a recent thrift store find, because it was a size too small. Fashion’s winter weaponry could be just as devastating as short shorts and a halter top.

She examined herself in the mirror, starting at the floor and working her way up. Nice feet, well proportioned. In the summer, she was fond of sandals and holographic nail polish that shimmered with rainbow colors on each of her toes. Her tight, denim jeans highlighted long legs that tapered up to perfect thighs and hips that showed her femininity without flaunting it. She twisted at the waist, pleased with the firm swells of her rear. Fifteen miles a week on the treadmill were doing their job. Continue reading “ONLY THE NECK DOWN by David Reagan”