Date of Submission
Over the past year I have grown interested in the ways in which we are being monitored. I began to notice that the advertisements in my Gmail inbox did not only pertain to what was contained in my inbox, but also to what I was doing on the Internet. Google searches changed too; searches for movies, restaurants or businesses produced results in my neighborhood, even though I had never specified where I was. Facebook began suggesting photos of friends for me to look at. It was all a little disconcerting, but in order to use these online services I had to consent to these things I did not find to be all that agreeable. My notion of privacy had been obscured, maybe even lost. Then, in April of 2010 the Library of Congress began archiving the entirety of Twitter’s postings, claiming that they are an immense impact on culture and history. Every input has an output; every action, a reaction. I started to consider how the users of sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube elected to allow themselves to be monitored and recorded. We are presented with the knowledge that we are being watched, yet we choose to continue on. This was the impetus for Look Who’s Talking. Over the course of a year I compiled a collection of field recordings taken in public spaces ranging from restaurants to international airports. These, in addition to sound recordings taken from publicly available YouTube videos, form the installation’s sonic environment. Using a webcam and Max/MSP programming software, Look Who’s Talking analyzes the camera’s feed to interpret the observer’s motions. Depending on how the participant moves through the installation’s space he or she triggers different recordings from the room’s speakers. Your every move is monitored, and, like on the Internet itself, you are the observer, the participant and the creator of your environment. The visual component of the piece is a sort of users’ privacy agreement; just as when one signs up to a website, one cedes the rights to one’s privacy to the site. The wall projection of a surveillance camera mounted on the ceiling is the only hint given to the participants as to how the sounds are being triggered. The viewers are warned of the consequences to their actions, yet in order to experience the piece they must give in to the surveillance. Glow Old, a CD with pieces recorded over the past year as part of an ongoing project under my moniker of the same name, also seeks to produce something new using found materials. Drawing from genres and musical styles as diverse as Latin American cumbia, Turkish traditional folk, hip-hop and contemporary electronic darkwave, among others, Glow Old combines such elements into a musical surveillance; samples from all over the world and spanning many time periods are brought together with my own music.
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Schur-Narula, Niki, "Look Who's Talking // Glow Old" (2010). Selected Senior Projects Fall 2010. 9.