Loca: Set To Discoverable (2006ff.)

Sunday, 6 January 2008


(Film: Drew Hemment, 2007)

About: “Loca is an artist-led project on grass-roots, pervasive surveillance by John Evans (UK/Finland), Drew Hemment (UK), Theo Humphries (UK), Mike Raento (Finland).”

History: ” The premier full presentation of Loca: Set To Discoverable at ISEA2006 and ZeroOne in August 2006 combined art installation, software engineering, activism, pervasive design, hardware hacking, SMS poetry, sticker art and ambient performance.”

Setting: “Deploying a cluster of interconnected, self-sufficient Bluetooth nodes across downtown San Jose, the Loca art group were able to track and communicate with the residents of San Jose via their cellphone without their permission or knowledge, so long as they had a Bluetooth device set to discoverable. Over 7 days more than two thousand five hundred people were detected more than half a million (500,000) times by the Loca node network, enabling the team to build up a detailed picture of their movements. People were sent messages from a stranger with intimate knowledge of their movements. Over the course of the week the tone of the messages changed, “coffee later?” changing to “r u ignoring me?”

Why? “Pervasive surveillance is potentially both sinister and positive at the same time. New ways of organising media and of communicating with each other become possible when the context of the media and the user is known. But also as a consequence ever more can be surveilled and ultimately controlled. Loca examines what happens when it is easy for everyone to track everyone, when surveillance can be affected by consumer level technology within peer-to-peer networks, without collapsing this ambiguity. It is an experiment that does not either blindly celebrate the technology, or claim that the technology is inherently bad. It aims to raise awareness of the networks we inhabit, to provoke people into questioning them, and help people equip themselves to deal with the ambiguity of pervasive media environments.”

http://www.loca-lab.org/

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