Auto-surveillance Encounter

New York-based artist Eric Forman’s performance piece Auto-surveillance Encounter was first mounted in 2004 at the Hostel Haus Salon in Brooklyn, New York and later in Canada at the 2015 “Art Souterrain” Festival in Montreal. In the performance, Forman allows participants to experience multiple vantage points as the viewed, viewer, and voyeur. The artist invites one audience member (the viewer) to strap on a micro-camera to their forehead and stare into the eyes of each audience member (the viewed) for one minute intervals while TV monitors behind the viewer capture their viewpoint. The other audience members are free to look where they please (the voyeurs); they can gaze at the screen capturing the interaction through the eyes of the viewer, directly at the two participants staring at one another, or amongst other audience members. Participants rotate through each role to understand the diverse perspectives and experiences of surveillance. The press release for “Art Souterrain” explains Forman’s piece as provoking the experience of the everyday surveillances in new and unfamiliar ways: “the nature of this spectacle, even when simultaneous, makes interaction seem hyper-real. Yet only the viewer and the current participant are experiencing direct, personal contact. The onset and fade of self-consciousness is broadcasted for all to see. Each interval becomes a subversive meditative exercise in genuine, non-mediated, communication.”

Client:Eric Forman, Auto-surveillance Encounter, 2004 and 2015. Miniature surveillance camera, video projector. Timed performance. Variable dimensions. Image courtesy of the artist. © Eric Forman.
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