Category Archives: surveillance

Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup “Search” 1993

surveillance stills

Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup “Search” 1993


“‘Search’, by Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup, consists of silent video footage documenting a synchronised walk undertaken by the artists [in two separate locations] in the city centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne [on Monday, May 17th] 1993 [at 1pm]. It was the first commissioned project undertaken by Locus+ and was part of the 2nd Tyne International exhibition of Contemporary Art. ‘Search’ was recorded on the then­ brand-new 16-camera surveillance system run by Northumbria Police, and the resultant footage was given to the artists who edited it into twenty 10-second sequences that were then transmitted unannounced during the commercial breaks on Tyne Tees Television between 21 June and 4 July 1993.”

“The artists wanted to demonstrate their concerns towards the recently installed massive surveillance systems through the city of Northumbria (Newcastle upon Tyne was the first city centre in the UK to install a Closed Circuit Television network). Pat and Wendy recorded it on the 16 camera surveillance systems and its vision was capable of recording 16 separate views of the city in any one second. ” [credit]

plan b “All GPS traces in Berlin in 2011-2012” 2012

a map

plan b

two people tracing

plan b


plan b is the name that Sophia New and Daniel Belasco Rogers take when working collaboratively as artists. They are amongst the leading figures to engage with GPS technologies since their widespread availability over the last decade or more. Their practice is based on both walking and on data collection including, most notably, their GPS traces. Rogers has tracked every single one of his journeys for a whole decade. New has done the same since 2007. On several occasions they have exhibited an entire year’s worth of traces in one space, effectively making every action they take become public knowledge.

Such actions present ethical problems for us, as much as for the artists. The viewer becomes privy to the artist’s habits and, hence, inner life. If information about apparently innocuous activity such as walking through one’s own city can be timed, monitored and recorded by an artist, such information can easily be known by technology providers and sold to others. Those who might want to observe, redirect, restrict or control our behaviour have new ways of doing so. Most recently, plan b have engraved a whole year’s worth of GPS data onto a transparent acrylic sheet. The journeys that they routinely or repeatedly undertake are ‘dug’ out of the material in an almost archaeological manner. Their habits and ways of inhabiting the city are simultaneously made both monumental and as ghost-like traces.”

Wrights & Sites, “A Mis-Guide to Anywhere” 2006


Wrights & Sites are a group of artists and researchers whose collaborative work is focused on their relationships to walking, cities and landscape. The group was founded in 1997 by Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner.

They argue that “walking and exploring the everyday remains at the heart of all we do. What we make seeks to facilitate walker-artists, walker-makers and everyday pedestrians to become partners in ascribing significance to place. We employ disrupted walking strategies as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaning­ making. Our work, like walking, is intended to be porous”. Walking is accompanied by “dramaturgical strategies” – i.e. the outcomes of their works are often site-specific performances.

Their ‘Mis-guide to Anywhere’ is, they claim, “a utopian project for the recasting of a bitter world by disrupted walking”. Their work “links the tangible and the imagined” and is a form of “serious play”. It is an activity in which the role of the artist “might become that of guide, or mis­-guide, rather than the narrator or interpreter of a particular place”.

Wrights & Sites make use of the intellectual toolbox associated with the canon of writing about the role of ‘the flaneur’, in order to arm us for a consumerized and militarized world. Wrights & Sites observe that in this strange era of the twenty-first century, to go walking in many parts of the world, from war zones like Afghanistan through to most British city centres, is to be under continual surveillance.”

Sophie Calle, Suite Vénitienne (1980)

“At the end of January 1980, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd. That very evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice. I decided to follow him.” – Sophie Calle

photos of a man walking away from the viewer in the city

“Sophie Calle’s urban expeditions might be thought to recall Vito Acconci’s seminal performance work ‘Following’, made a decade earlier in which he tailed strangers chosen at random without their knowledge, up until they left public space for their homes or offices. In Calle’s work however, the relationship between the artist and their public is different. This is not merely because the expected gender roles, where men act as predators and women are vulnerable, are inverted. The artist’s motivations are unknowable, her ultimate goals opaque, and her behavior seemingly contradictory.

If we might imagine Acconci’s role implies that he is dangerous – is a stalker or assailant – Calle’s activities imply she is a kind of private detective or spy in pursuit of knowing more about a person than they do themselves. The presentation of her works as a kind of diary is intentionally alarming. We are meant to feel both a distance from her or repugnance at her behavior and, despite this, a simultaneous sympathy for or intimacy with her. Unlike a normal detective story, Calle’s work leaves us with both ‘who’ and ‘why’ left unresolved.” [credit]

photos and text installed in a gallery in a long line

“She met a man, Henri B., at a party. He said he was moving to Venice, so she moved to Venice and there, she began to follow him. Suite Vénitienne was the resulting book, first published in 1979 …Calle documents her attempts to follow her subject. She phoned hundreds of hotels, even visited the police station, to find out where he was staying, and persuaded a woman who lived opposite to let her photograph him from her window. Her photographs show the back of a raincoated man as he travels through the winding Venetian streets, a surreal and striking backdrop to her internalised mission. The very beauty of her surroundings has a filmic quality, intensifying the thriller-esque narrative of her project. Sometimes her means of following Henri B. are methodical – enlisting Venetian friends to make a phone call on her behalf – and sometimes arbitrary – following a delivery boy to see if he will lead her to him.” [credit]

a sheet of tiny photos and text

Credit: //


Efrat Natan, Head Sculpture (1973)

[image credit]

a person wearing a T-shaped sculpture on their head

Efrat Natan, Head Sculpture

Head Sculpture (1973) by Efrat Natan (1947-) has photo documentation that presents a descriptive view of what occurred during the walking performance, and what it looked like from multiple angles. In this work, Natan used a wearable T-shaped sculpture that narrowed the field of view and hearing for the wearer, emphasizing concepts of surveillance and mapping. The photographs showcase both the sculpture and the figure in the street.

“Natan walked through the streets of Tel Aviv, her head covered by a hollow plywood, T-shaped box/mask/sculpture the morning after [the independence day] military parade [in Jerusalem, five months before the outbreak of the Fourth Arab-Israeli War], meld[ing] the language of minimalism, body art and installation art of that period with Christian influences (public self-signifying is a mark of Cain; the act is one of walking the Via Dolorosa).” [credit] The sculpture “can be read as a cross, as an airplane, and even as an angel with outspread wings.” [credit]

“The Minimalism went well with my shyness: it was a kind of mask. The space, which sits strongly in my body, led me to Body Art”, Natan says. Body Art sets up the artist’s body as a central object to be viewed, and puts the tension between the body as subject and as object in the center of the action.” [credit]

“The T-shape is reminiscent of the children’s house in her kibbutz. The sculpture’s visual appearance calls to mind Robert Morris or Charlotte Posenenske. Due to her restricted field of vision, Natan could only see part of the people surrounding her.” [credit] ”

“The kibbutz, where she had lived from her second year of elementary school until the end of her 11th-grade year in high school. The T-shaped structure of the children’s house, the most familiar architectural structure of her life in the kibbutz, contained bedrooms, a dining room, the showers, and a classroom. The long side of the children’s house, with the dining room in the center and the bedrooms on both its sides, faced west.” [credit]

“Head Sculpture (1973) was Efrat Natan’s first street performance to a chance audience. In many ways, this work was a harbinger of an artistic genre of quiet action in the public space, which was recognized thanks to the remaining photographic images. Such works, that combine body art and minimalist sculpture, are formed in a space that is devoid of institutional artistic context, with the very occurrence often affecting the content of the work. Thus, for example, the title of this work was given by two random tourists who were observing Natan walking along Dizengoff and Frishman Streets, her head stuck in a hollow MDF sculpture in the shape of a cross, or the letter X or a plus sign. One tourist said to the other: “Look! A head sculpture!”” [credit]

From the Wanderlust catalog: “Natan draws on her upbringing in her work, which reflects the Israel “religion of labor” and the ideological imperative of “making do with little.”

“The flattened aerial perspective transforms the human form into a sculptural object and suggests modes of surveillance and mapping, which are emphasized by the function of the sculpture itself”

“Her performance suggests a framing and reduction of the senses and the ambiguity inherent in collecting a narrow field of vision and hearing.”

Conor McGarrigle, “WalkSpace: Beirut-Venice” (2012)


As part of THESTATEOFMIND for the Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Art 2011. WalkSpace: Beirut-Venice invites the participant on a drift through Venice guided from Beirut and in Beirut guided from Venice.

The work involves two simultaneous dérives (drifts) through the historic cities of Beirut and Venice, connected in real time to each other and to the world. Two interconnected groups of participants will walk in each city, each receiving instruction and guidance from the other as they wander, get lost and explore the psychogeographical ambience of the city.

The progress of each group will be broadcast as a live video stream via Bambuser, tracked in realtime on a map with Google latitude and tweeted with followers having the option of giving instructions via twitter.

The object is not to create a finite discrete work but to create a peripatetic relational space which can evolve and respond to the situation, the desires of its participants and serendipity, with the work being created through the actions of its participants. The space is furthermore overlaid with a hybrid, networked space connecting both cities and augmenting each space with the absent presence of the other.

Working from a changing set of basic instructions such as ‘describe what you see’, ‘follow that person’, ‘take the next left and then the first right’ or the more loaded ‘take me to the heart of the city’ the two groups will walk in tandem each guiding the other, walking in Beirut as if in Venice and Venice as if in Beirut.

The project draws on early dérives carried out by the Situationists in Amsterdam and Strasbourg which connected groups in different parts of the cities with walkie talkies and Ralph Rumney’s 1957 Psychogeographical Map of Venice.


We invite the audience to follow us in real time using Bambuser for video, Google latitude for locations and with geotagged tweets. We invited those not in Venice or Beirut to follow us virtually with the following services.

Latitude: We will be broadcasting out location in real time during the event using Google Latitude. To track the event first sign up for Latitude and send a request to share location to allegora.venice[AT], or alternatively email allegora.venice[AT] and we will share our location with you. You do not need to share your location to follow us.

Bambuser: To view our live video feed simply visit

Bruce Nauman “Live-Taped Video Corridor” (1970)

two monitors at the end of a narrow hall

Credit: Guggenheim


Related to part of a multi-corridor installation that Nauman constructed earlier in 1970 at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles, Live-Taped Video Corridor features two stacked television monitors at its far end, both linked to a camera mounted at the corridor’s entrance: the top monitor plays live feed from the camera, while the bottom monitor plays pretaped footage of the empty passageway from the identical angle. Walking down the corridor, one views oneself from behind in the top monitor, diminishing in size as one gets closer to it. The camera’s wide-angle lens heightens one’s disorientation by making the rate of one’s movement appear somewhat sped up. Meanwhile, the participant is entirely, and uncannily, absent from the lower monitor. The overall result is an unsettling self-conscious experience of doubling and displacement.