The series “Mass Surveillance” is the result of a photographic survey of the thousands of publicly accessible webcams live-streaming around the world. It is a reflection about how our daily lives, in general, are constantly monitored and controlled.
In documenting this phenomenon, the first impression is that the apparatus of the surveillance camera carries an inescapable and uncanny quality. Pictorially and precisely, its images connote the so-called ”state of exception,” a condition within law when all rules and all laws are suspended. It is the state of exception that underwrites the state of emergency, under which so many places have fallen.
While the security camera is intended to protect and police, the public webcam takes on the outward form of entertainment. But more disturbingly, these streaming images are utilized today to underwrite regimes of power, where normal rights of privacy are permanently suspended.
“Mass Surveillance” collects images from all over the world: a kindergarten in Japan to the streets of London. Insofar as these images were gathered from the Internet, “Mass Surveillance” presents the apparatus of the traditional surveillance camera in its contemporary iteration, the webcam. Thus, the final images take on the distortions of the device while pushing them further, emphasizing digitalization, pixellation, and the very process of being (re)photographed.
Given the physical ubiquity of such cameras today—and add in their footages’ presence on the Internet—and we arrive at a moment where the state of exception is no longer an exception, but a universal.