fishbowl (2005)
Goldfish, aquarium, submersible cameras, custom software
Fishbowl explores the complicated politics of video surveillance in our culture through an absurd situation: a goldfish monitors the feed from four spy cameras. The title of the piece, Fishbowl, refers to the focal object, a glass tank that houses an aquatic pet, as well as the second meaning of the word: a place or condition of high public visibility and little or no personal privacy.
In Fishbowl, the goldfish controls the video data generated by four submersible surveillance cameras through its proximity to a particular camera. A fifth spy camera hidden beneath the tank tracks the fish's location in the tank. A laptop computer identifies the camera nearest to the fish's position and turns on the feed for that camera only.
A nearby monitor displays the live feed in quad format from the Fishbowl installation. A linked VCR records the day's activity to tape.  An archive of twenty-five tapes was created during the duration of the exhibition.  Very similar in content, each tape speaks to the enormous amount of banal information taped daily in the City of Chicago; information gathered mainly by private cameras installed in the Loop, a heavily surveilled area with approximately three cameras per square city-block.
The main aim of the Fishbowl installation is to raise questions about the omnipresence of camera surveillance in our daily lives as well as the presence or absence of conscious bodies monitoring this enormous quantity of videotape created by private data collection systems.
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