Whitman Sky

When drone warfare, omnipresent CCTV, and the subpoena of entire social graphs are commonplace, why should we need yet another surveillance camera?

This work was realized in collaboration with my classmates Marcial Díaz Mejía, Anna Murveit, and Daniel Swain. In creating this work, we sought to challenge our college community to consider the rapid proliferation of surveillance in its many forms and the hidden norms of public space that these developments provoke.

For one day in October 2012 we hoisted a web-enabled camera 150 feet above Ankeny Field, a public space at Whitman used simply as a thoroughfare by some and as a spot for sports and leisure for others. The camera streamed live images of the view from directly above the field to the website whitmansky.com. The tethered weather balloon from which the camera hung was visible to all — a bold reminder that in this place someone is always watching.

The images collected remain available to browse. They constitute an recording of social relations among unidentified individuals throughout the day. They can also be seen as an archive of formal compositions generated by a small group of agents navigating a very complex system system of social codes.