Magazine article Art Monthly

KISSS: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression

Magazine article Art Monthly

KISSS: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression

Article excerpt

KISSS: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression

Castlefield Manchester October 6 to November 16

In a forthcoming data and communications bill the government plans a centralised database capable of accessing every phonecall, email and text we send, which makes this exhibition of the latest developments from an ongoing 'meta performance project', launched in 2005 at the Whitechapel Gallery, extremely timely. Highlighting a group exhibition by four artists, Paula Roush, Camilla Brueton, Deej Fabyc and Joanna Callaghan, this Castlefield show includes an hour-long screening programme, a seminar, links to a website and social network, and an archive tracing the early development of projects by KISSS: Kinship International Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression. The work reflects one or more of four strategies which are: Body Fortress, in which surveillance and the suppression of the personal are examined; Media Watch, in which media-speak is analysed; Bionic Bodies, which questions the 'technological body data'; and I See You See, in which surveillance space is researched.

Joanna Callaghan's Currency, 2005-08, consists of two video monitors and a wall-mounted display of newspaper front pages and cuttings. The monitors show compilations of network television news clips, often very tightly cut, collected as part of the Media Watch 'TV Task Force' strategy. Concentrating on the July 2005 London bombings, clips focus on themes such as accuracy, and we are shown early reports on the De Menezes shooting in which he was described repeatedly as a 'tall Asian man' who 'was challenged but refused to obey'. In looking at journalism, we see a succession of location-based reports in which bomb survivors, obviously still in shock, are asked for 'a sense' of what it felt like. The news media's dependence on experts (especially those specialising in explosives, migration or security) is also dissected, as is the use of graphics, in particular maps and bird's-eye photographs, and animated 3-D models, for instance of Stockwell tube station, showing escalators and probable routes taken by one running man and a squad of armed police.

Sitting in the middle of the concrete floor nearby is a black-painted installation by Fabyc entitled Free Spirit House, 2008. Inside, its four walls are lined with 15 mirrors, each differently angled and framed, and nine CCTV cameras, all pointing inwards, towards the viewer, who is also visible on a split-screen video monitor. The harsh lighting bleaches out clothing, while the closeness of cameras, mirrors and monitor results in an odd, perceived exaggeration in the speed of any tiny movement within the confines of the box-like booth. Fabyc, who combines installation and video work with live art and performance, will use Free Spirit House to investigate Manchester's night worker culture during two public Walking Tours, when she will engage with road maintenance workers, police and emergency services, and 'those who would rather remain anonymous'.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Roush uses video in two pieces. The Posthuman Finger, 2008, provides an amusing but worrying insight into a Portuguese workplace, a cultural centre in which a biometric device has been fitted requiring workers to clock on every morning. The device, when touched, recognises everyone's fingerprint, and office workers refer to this practice as 'putting the finger'. One of them also calls the machine 'the Brazilian', because it talks back in a recorded voice with a Brazilian accent. Created in collaboration with performance artist Jorge Rocha, who also works in the same office, the film questions how 'putting the finger' threatens to undermine the rights everybody thinks they have over their own body. …

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