Prague Panopticon, 2006

Working with the City of Prague in the Czech Republic [Prague’s Crisis Management Department] I was given permission to use the city’s municipal safety surveillance system and public cameras. I used this network of cameras to document a single day spent in a city chosen for its checkered history of surveillance and watching its own citizens from the oppression of Soviet occupation to the Velvet Revolution’s new openness. Having such disparity present in the city’s recent history allowed me to create a project that works along many layers. It serves as a commentary on the omnipresent nature of surveillance cameras in our lives, while the use of these preexisting cameras as art making devices reflects concepts similar to Duchamp’s”readymades”.

The resulting images of myself in Prague on July 23, 2006, are a documentation of one person’s day in a new city. The viewer gets an entirely impartial view of this experience; the pursuit of a normal day spent in a foreign city. Artwork created from this imagery and process becomes, for the audience, a welcome relief from, and a challenge to the usual photographs and video that we see everyday, be they Youtube cellphone video of celebrity meltdown, the 6 o’clock news report on a bank heist in Sweden, or the manufactured “reality” of Survivor.

As my work is driven by curiosity, the use of this medium was valuable in that it allowed me to see viewpoints and capture perspectives not usually available. It also provided me with the opportunity to remove myself from control in the creation and composition of the images, and instead to concentrate on the experience and bring evidence to the viewer. Recorded permanently here are moments otherwise in a constant state of flux.

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