Data Shadows – Installation

Local Servers 6, 9, 14, 1, 17
pigment prints mounted and suspended in steel frames, LED's, mirror, false floor

Data Shadows (interactive monitor)
eye tracker, unique tunnel vision software, monitor

Data Shadows (floor install)
false floor with mirror boxes and monitors displaying an accumulated eye track generated by a viewer

Mirror Box 6

Mirror Box 30

Mirror Box 37

Mirror Box 4

Mirror Box 11

Mirror Box 13

Mirror Box 28

Mirror Box 12

Mirror Box 16

Hardware Mirror 37 (Cage Door), Eye Tracks
pigment prints

Eye Tracks
pigment prints

The project Data Shadows (2014-present) is a photographic investigation into the physical apparatus of the Internet and digital surveillance. As our daily lives become increasingly mediated, connected and transparent, the trails of information we leave behind as we traverse the Internet have come to represent digital extensions of our identities. These digital identities, or “data shadows,” have significant and often hidden effects on our relationships to large institutions, our social interactions, and our daily experience. Nevertheless, we remain only vaguely aware that our personal data is both a part of us and at the same time hidden and outside of our control. At this unique moment in history, this work offers a symbolic gesture of “counterveillance” – an attempt to pinpoint the location of our data and use photography to peer back into the apparatus of the Internet and digital surveillance.

One of the core components of Data Shadows is an interactive gallery installation that uses photography and eye tracking to draw viewers into an exchange with the physical infrastructure of the Internet. To experience the installation, a single viewer stands 2-3 feet away from a monitor that contains photographs from the inside of data centers (see Figure 1). However, the screen starts off blank and the initial image does not appear all at once. The monitor is equipped with an eye tracking camera that follows the viewer’s line of sight as it moves across the screen, and only a small circular portion of the image is revealed wherever the gaze is directed. The rest of the screen remains black, creating a moving “tunnel vision” effect (see Figure 2). This tunnel vision effect is controlled by one viewer at a time, while the accumulated image trails are simultaneously projected onto a large wall behind them (see Figure 3), allowing others in the room to voyeuristically observe the movement of the viewer’s eye across the photographs.