Omni-Optic

Slowly and insidiously I feel the creeping certainty of perpetually being 'observed'. Watched. Monitored. It's a given while being online, connected to the 'WWW'. But also while at the market, in my car, on a sidewalk, in my backyard, even in my most private moments. Cameras, microphones and keystrokes are scrutinizing my behavior. This sounds paranoid and very creepy, yet, this isn't a Scopophobic nightmare, it's simply, now, a reality.

This body of work is a reaction to our contemporary 'omni-optic' facts of life. We've successfully transformed Foucault's architecture of the 'Panopticon' (surveillance of the guilty/accused), into a digital/technological 'Omnioptican' (surveillance of the innocent). One can't discuss surveillance without referencing Eric Arthur Blair's (aka George Orwell) book '1984'. Big Brother IS here but unlike '1984', there is still a thread of individual autonomy (or, is it simply the illusion of freedom that remains?). Data collection is scientific, clinical and devoid of emotion, therefore seemingly also without threat or even ethics; sweeping up information, silently, gently, secretly. And we accept this omnipresent monitoring because we fear, are told to fear threats to our security (real and manufactured). "What is the society we wish to protect? Is it the society of complete surveillance of the commonwealth? Is this the wealth we seek to have in common – optimal security at the cost of maximal surveillance?" (Tom Stoppard) Are we safer because of our uber-surveillance culture? Is it worth it? What are we relinquishing? And, what are the costs of complacency? Admittedly, the vision of this work examines the darker, more troubling aspects of surveillance culture. I understand that there are always positive outcomes to technological advances. Here though, I see an ominous and colossal imbalance. As in quantum physics, the mere act of observation affects the behavior of the observed – we are not free.

Omni-Optic 6, 20" x 32", Oil on panel