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September 24, 2004

Julia Scher


danger dirty data

On Tuesday night we went to Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD) to listen to a lecture by Julia Scher. The lecture was the first in a series organized by Bill Seaman, head of the Digital Media MFA Program at RISD.

Scher creates temporary and transitory web/installation/performance works that explore issues of power, control and seduction. She forces her 'actors' and 'audience' to question their roles in regulated space and each to "match the gaze" of the other. She facilitates the 'return' of a person's captured image in the form of a video print, thus bringing into play issues of identity and the internal/external body. Most of the performances Scher discussed involved video cameras and security guards; today, surveillance methods are more sinister--as ACCESS attests--and pervasive than ever: Chicago has 2,000 cameras in place and plans to add an additional 250 in the coming year (see "Chicago Moving to 'Smart' Surveillance Cameras," STEPHEN KINZER, New York Times, September 21, 2004).

Securityland and Wonderland are elaborate online projects Julia Scher created with äda 'web, "launched in 1995 and 1997, respectively; they were preceded by an introductory trailer titled danger dirty data in 1995. Scher offers various areas for user exploration, many of which raise issues of control and personal privacy. All manner of psychologically and physically invasive services and products are seductively pitched at the visitor, promising to alleviate problems caused internally and externally. Loosely based on architectural and clinical models, securityland and wonderland completely destabilize the notion of neutral or straightforward interchange, using inflections that are libidinal, gendered, quasi-institutional and subtly threatening."

Posted by jo at September 24, 2004 05:35 PM