Eye to eye

From Chris Eckert, a maker of “little art machines”, has made what could be described as a surveillance sculpture.

A disconcerting installation featuring 20 blinking kinetic eyeballs that track a person around a room
San Francisco artist Chris Eckert, who wanted to make a point of increasing surveillance and decreasing privacy of the population, has created “Blink”, an absolutely incredible series of mechanically operating blinking single eyeballs in a row, each equipped with face tracking software to deliberately evoke a disconcerting sense of privacy violation.

Yes, that combination of a very realistic eyeball looking directly at you from a very unreal, robotic face is unsettling, but I think what really works well is what happens after, as Chris explains in this video.

“You would have these interactions with them, and hopefully enjoy yourself playing with these eyeballs, only to go around the corner to discover that you’ve been recorded and observed the entire time by multiple eyeballs. And that anyone in that room was watching those video feeds and observing you doing that. And it kind of shifted your view of what was happening there. It changed it from being fun to being kind of invasive.”

Look Out! Chris Eckert’s Machines Are Watching You | KQED Arts

There are many more remarkable art machines on his website, and here is a piece on his Privacy Not Included exhibition, that Blink formed part of.

Chris Eckert: Privacy Not Included exhibition at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Privacy Not Included presents a sensorial experience that considers how we are viewed, followed, and tracked. As technology progresses and, in conjunction, as we continue to share personal data and information, what will be the consequences of our own privacy, our right to personal space, and ultimately, our freedom? In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 about omnipresent surveillance and public manipulation, the author writes, “The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” The works in the exhibition challenge us to contemplate this dilemma. They reflect the conundrum we face in our contemporary society: appreciating the joy of convenience and technology’s ability to provide us security and safety, versus negotiating between the disconcerting, constant surveillance and intrusion in our lives.

And to really bring that point home, here’s an article from Aeon on the same theme, convenience versus surveillance.

Orwell knew: we willingly buy the screens that are used against us
One can easily imagine choosing to buy a telescreen – indeed, many of us already have. And one can also imagine needing one, or finding them so convenient that they feel compulsory. The big step is when convenience becomes compulsory: when we can’t file our taxes, complete the census or contest a claim without a telescreen.

Film’s fall and rise?

Canon is officially done selling film cameras after 80 years
Over the next 80 years, Canon would produce a long, respected line of rangefinders and SLR cameras that turned the company into a global leader in camera equipment. But after the introduction of Canon’s first digital camera, the RC-701 in 1984, Canon’s focus began shifting more and more toward the emerging digital camera market.

Even as virtually all of its film cameras were discontinued in the digital age, Canon kept the EOS-1V alive for professional film photographers as its sole film camera.

But as one door closes, another opens. Hopefully.

Reflex: Bringing back the analogue SLR camera
Reflex is a modern update of the timeless manual SLR 35mm film camera. Distinctive in its modular design, it combines contemporary mechanical and electrical engineering with the classic design of an analogue camera, making it the first newly designed manual SLR system in over 25 years.

Kodak, Fujifilm: Film photography is definitely back
But in the last three years, companies like Kodak, Fujifilm and Harman Technology, which manufactures the popular Ilford Photo black-and-white films, have been experiencing a comeback. “We’re seeing film growth of 5% year-on-year globally,” says Giles Branthwaite, the sales and marketing director at Harman. “Our professional film sales have been increasing over the last two or three years,” confirms Dennis Olbrich, president of Kodak Alaris’ imaging, paper, photo chemicals and film division.

I was happy to join in with Reflex’s Kickstarter project, and its target was easily met. I really hope it’s successful, after having had my fingers burnt earlier.

Goodbye, cameras

"Yet if the advent of digital photography compressed the core processes of the medium, smartphones further squish the full spectrum of photographic storytelling: capture, edit, collate, share, and respond."

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/12/goodbye-cameras.html

I love Craig Mod’s writing. Had only read his stuff about books and publishing before – this piece for the New Yorker on his changing relationship with cameras and networked photography is great.