All eyes on me, 2020
This work is an observation of our current online human experience, where our desire for watching others, as well as being watched through the filters, has blurred the line between reality and fiction. It seems our lives have become an online and virtual theatre stage with performers and an audience. In order to represent this concept this artwork was conceived as a collaboration for the CIJ (Centre for Investigative Journalism), and is exhibited as part of the Logan Symposium under the theme of ‘Collective Intelligence’. I was particularly interested in the surveillance aspect of our collective digital experience. From my observations of online human interaction it seems that the original idea around the panopticon has evolved from a concept coined by English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham, where individuals are continuously under surveillance from a central viewer. By contrast the online panopticon involves surveillance between individuals as well as the central viewer (e.g corporations, state, AI and organisations). I decided to explore how this fits with the new digital world and came up with the idea to create an interactive encounter, where the viewer enters a virtual elevator through which they access the first floor of a building into a holding cell (a ‘virtual prison’). Displayed all around the room are iconic theatre masks that watch and follow the viewers movement as they explore the space. The floor of the room is depicted as a digital display which is the centre stage that displays entertaining videos of ‘ordinary’ lives online. All of the faces in the videos have been produced with AI (artificial intelligence) and are therefore not from a real person. The viewer can participate directly in the artwork through the live camera button which will enable their image to be placed on the stage amongst all the other images and videos. We behave differently when we are being watched... If we apply the panopticon concept to our current online experience our behaviour is modified subconsciously under the illusion of freely choosing our online content. Ultimately, we seek contentment and connection through interaction with our visible and invisible audiences. My questions are, how does constant surveillance of our current online existence manipulate our thoughts and actions over time? How does our online life effect us when we are offline? What does the future hold, are they eventually merging into one entity?