This story at We Make Money Not Art describes the artwork of Hasan M. Elahi who isn’t actually a criminal, but was supected of being a terrorist and was investigated and interrogated between June and November 2002 by the FBI. Elahi says the FBI wanted to know everything he had been doing while overseas, “What was I doing there? Who was I speaking with? What did I see? Where did I sleep? And even down to what I ate and drank. I was eventually cleared and to the relief of my friends, family and co-workers, I am officially no longer considered a terrorist – after a 3 hour long polygraph exam which was repeated 9 times.”
Mr. Elahi’s art is influenced by Orwell’s vision of a future state of total surveillance and control. In one piece he wears a device which uploads images tagged with exact GPS coordinates of where the image was taken to a server which then sends the GPS tag to the United States Geological Survey which returns an aerial surveillance image of the his location. The server compiles the returned map with the uploaded images and small thumbnails of the previously used images into the web based file which can then be accessed online.
I like to think about the appearance of technology rather than technology itself. More importantly how the technology is packaged or should I say, marketed into an appearance of desire and need for the consumer. This need I feel is more based on a social understanding and [social] function of the technology. Just as any other product that has a pioneering stage, an acceptance stage and an obsolescence stage, I feel that the timing of how a certain technology is adopted by society is far more important than the technology itself. It is in these human borders and frontiers that I am interested in…and also the traces that they leave behind. I have been attempting to bridge these virtual conditions with physical geopolitical parallels and have been fascinated at the translations and the mis-translations of them. I find the most potential in these mutual misunderstandings. I find states of designed obsolescence in structures and systems of power as a global citizen. I prefer lo-fi to hi-fi–and in these absurd realities, I find my works attempting to balance and tumble simultaneously.