Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Following the changed political climate of post 9/11 as well as the proliferation of new pervasive digital technologies, the public urban space has become increasingly open for both new forms of observation and regulation. Seeking to explore the impact of these changes on our society, we, in February this year, organised a conference on the topic of sousveillance at Aarhus University.
Sousveillance, or inverse surveillance, is a term coined by Steve Mann to describe the recording of an activity from the perspective of the participants. Whereas surveillance denotes the act of watching from above, sousveillance goes about bringing the practice of observation down to a more human level (i.e. ordinary people doing the watching, rather than authorities or governmental institutions). As part of our more practical exploration of this concept we invited The Space Hijackers to both give a talk and do an urban intervention in the streets of Århus. The Space Hijackers were chosen because of their long-standing engagement with how performance art can be used as a vehicle to explore and question the non-reflected structures behind the organisation of space and urban architecture. From our viewpoint, this particular practice not only bears resemblance to that of the historical avant-garde of the past century, but also constitutes a major and important trend in the current re-appropriation of the urban space by contemporary art collectives.
Although beyond our scope to comment on the legal aspects of the intervention in question, we would, however, like to stress the cultural and democratic importance of a continued acceptance by society of critical, artistic practices such as those of The Space Hijackers.
On behalf of the Digital Aesthetics Research Centre,
Lars Bo Løfgreen and Tatiana Bazzichelli