New Sciences of Protection Conference: Theme Panel 4 with Drew Hemment ‘Loca: Location orientated Critical Art’ and Andrew Clement ‘Total Transparency Solutions Inc’
Drew Hemment introduced the work of ‘Loca,’ or location orientated critical art (http://www.loca-lab.org/). Loca is an artistic practice which seeks to explore the often ambiguous ethical implications of pervasive surveillance. It “looks at what happens when it is easy for everyone to track everyone, when surveillance can be effected by consumer level technology within peer-to-peer networks without being routed through a central point.” We could say that, following John McGrath, Loca seeks to stimulate reflection not on whether we want to inhabit ‘surveillance space’(for we already do), but on how we want to inhabit it.
Andrew Clement’s ‘Total Transparency Solutions’ also probes the ethical implications of inhabiting surveillance space, a space which is neither public, nor private. In particular, and as the name suggests, Total Transparency Solutions addresses the problem of transparency for the ethics of surveillance space. Relations of visibility in surveillance space are often asymmetrical, with the watched not usually being able to see the watchers. Total Transparency Solutions, who also provided the ID card scheme and safety infrastructure for the New Sciences of Protection Conference, argue that without the symmetrical visibility of watcher and watched surveillance space faces a crisis of legitimacy. They seek to address imbalances in transparency and accountability through the use of public signs like the ones below. In the absence of such ‘checks and balances’ the stratifications of surveillance space – the social sorting effected by surveillance – are without justification. It could be argued that, following Lincoln’s famous maxim for representational government, Total Transparency Solutions propose a kind of surveillance of the people, for the people, by the people.
Thank you to our fabulous Joseph Rigby for this great summary