Artist Research – Benjamin Gaulon Recyclism

Benjamin Gaulon, also known as ‘recyclism’; a digital artists whose work focuses on planned obsolescence, consumerism and disposable society. Gaulon belongs to the young generation of artists in the field of technological and new media art (Altena, 2005). Through his works Benjamin makes the audience conscious of issues regarding the role of technology in culture and society.

Gaulon’s on-going project 2.4GHz was of particular interest to me as it explores the concept of privacy and how it has been altered due to the growth of social media and the increased use of surveillance cameras and devices in both public and private places. The 2.4GHz project from surveillance to broadcast was initially started in 2008. In this project Gaulon uses an affordable and widely available wireless video receiver to hack into public and private wireless surveillance cameras (Gaulon, 2012)

twopointfour

Gaulon initially collected footage received by the wireless device from different areas in Europe, then proceeded to place the device in public streets in order to display the presence of the cameras to the general public, in attempt to subvert assumptions about the nature of these public-private surveillance technologies, and to bring to attention that the signals from wireless surveillance cameras and similar popular consumer products, can in fact be received by anyone without the audiences awareness. Gaulon also presented participants the opportunity to take part in workshops where they were invited to explore CCTV and wireless networks of their city by searching for 2.4GHz surveillance video signals (Gaulon, 2012).

Goulons work relates to the rapid increase of online social media websites, and how it is increasingly common to share and present an idealized-self online, in order to generate a response or to simply feel accepted, it is evident that “we are  becoming habituated to a culture in which we are all expected to monitor one another” (Andrejevic, 2007).  Gaulon explores the merging of the public and private spheres with the escalation in surveillance, and also the rise of social media, and the constant need to reveal personal information online in order to create an online social presence. Gaulon (2012) describes it as a fascination by our own image, from reality TV shows like Big Brother to Youtube video podcasts, it looks like the human narcissistic nature is surprisingly pleased to be surrounded by cameras.

The concept of privacy and identity construction is core in my installation, as I play with the idea of removing and reconstructing the audiences identity.  Social media spaces, such as Facebook, often blur the private and public boundaries, since on the Internet users are presented an illusion of privacy. Katz and Rice (2002) explain new users and those engaged exclusively in recreational domains probably feel this illusion most strongly. Many users reveal too much personal information online, from home addresses to pictures of intimate moments with family and friends, without being aware of the dangers of online social sites (Barnes, 2006). In order to simply browse popular social media website Facebook, one must first register an account to become a user by providing their full name, email address, birthday and gender. This is explored in my installation, as the audience interacts with the installation their identity is removed and reconstructed using the default Facebook profile photo as a starting point.

 

References

Andrejevic, M., 2007. iSpy Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era. University of Kansas, 212-240.

Altena, A., 2005. The Works of Benjamin Gaulon. Available from: http://www.recyclism.com/statement.php [Accessed 20 March 2014]

Barnes, S. B., 2006. A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States. First Monday, 11(9).

Gaulon, B,. 2012. 2.4Ghz from Surveillance to Broadcast. Available from: http://www.recyclism.com/twopointfour.php [Accessed March 19 2014]

Katz, J. E. and Rice, R. E., 2002. Social consequences of Internet use: Access, involvement, and interaction. MIT press.

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