“Privacy advocates will find it difficult to convince the public that traditional definitions of privacy are of higher value than the freedom to leave your house. No one should want to abandon privacy as a value, of course, or even to downgrade its importance. But it’s entirely possible to develop a concept of privacy that is less metaphorical, with new boundaries consistent with the practical challenges society now faces.” (1)
In a time of self-isolation, the home becomes the main arena of events. Between a film set and a black box theater, the home becomes the setting for a staged life, a life that only recently took place somewhere outside. The illusion of normalcy is enabled by the screen that delivers new functions with each day. We have set a new framework of living within which, isolated behind glass, we fulfill our needs, desires and obsessions. Meetings and sex parties over Zoom, socializing via Chatroulette, Michelin-starred restaurants available thanks to Wolt, 6 a.m. raves on Sundays at regular Club Quarantine parties. The screen has become the only place where any significant contact takes place, it enables us to reintegrate into the society from which we are cut off. In front of it we confess, learn, dance and undress – we define who we are or at least who we think we are.
I magnify your feet with my thumbs.
The possibilities of screen-mediated communication consequently generate new opportunities for voyeurism and surveillance. In interaction with technology, the body becomes its extension, code and base. Similar to the stranger’s arrival in Passolini’s Teorema, the screen seduces us, makes us confess and deprives us of our previous identity by transforming us into a code. We no longer associate surveillance with the act of watching but with the principle of organization, analysis and storage of collected data. Although it is bodies and actions that are being observed, the human element is completely erased from the process of watching. The main actor is now the algorithm whose eye is not neutral due to the fact that it is, like humans, laden with beliefs, assumptions, prejudices and opinions posing as objective truths.
Although the virus has solidified our cohabitation with the screen, it has also impacted the redefinition of the concept of privacy. In numerous countries, efforts have been made to develop sophisticated technologies that conduct mass home surveillance under the pretense of fighting the virus. Trusted computing involving agreed surveillance has led to the reappropriation of technologies primarily related to war and profit, with a resolute goal – to preserve human life. Among them is the experimental program developed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia – SCAN. A wide-angle lensed micro scanner has been built into our phones. Under the guise of safety and infection prevention, SCAN has created a new monitoring ecosystem that continually records the patterns of behavior manifested both outside and inside the home. The power of trusted computing stems from its invisibility. Our computer, chip, network or cloud are constantly watching, recording and sorting data. For years, we had wanted to be those who are invisible, to fight against the infrastructure that is always freezing our representation and tying us to specific coordinates, time and affects. (3) Months spent in self-isolation have swayed us towards giving up the invisibility of our own image and surrendering control to SCAN that enables the reclamation of the fields of visibility.
(1) Bruno Maçães: Only Surveillance Can Save Us From Coronavirus, URL: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/10/coronavirus-pandemic-surveillance-privacy-big-data/
(2) Douglas Thomas: Surveillance in the Age of “Trusted Computing”, u: No Internet, No Art, A Lunch Bytes Anthology, Onomatopee 102, 2015.
(3) Hito Steyerl: The Spam of the Earth: Withdrawal from Representation, URL: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/32/68260/the-spam-of-the-earth-withdrawal-from-representation/
Deni Horvatić was born in 1991 in Čakovec, Croatia. He is a student of Art History and Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. His artistic practices combine photography as well as video art and CGI. He worked for several years at Studio Silvio Vujičić and at the fashion brand E.A. 1/1 S.V. as a researcher and head of communications and visual design. He won the Marina Viculin award for extraordinary achievement in the field of Croatian photography, established by the Organ Vida International Photography Organization. His first solo exhibition “SCAN“ will be realized as part of the 11th Organ Vida International Photography Festival – Hesitant Images, and will take place at Gallery Miroslav Kraljević. He lives and works in Zagreb and Čakovec.
The exhibition has been funded and produced by Organ Vida Photography Organisation, and is the result of the Marina Viculin Award that has been awarded by the organisation since 2017 with the purpose of promoting Croatian contemporary photography.