Global telecommunications, social media, and pervasive surveillance have produced an enduring tension between the desire to freely and conveniently exchange personal information and the desire to maintain selective privacy. Cryptography has shifted from the lore of military history and spy stories to a crucial function of everyday communications. Meanwhile, Chicago has developed one of the most vast, sophisticated, and networked surveillance camera systems in the world, which is nearing the moment that any square inch of the city can be seen, identified, and tracked. This incredible network of visual sensing combined with increasingly sophisticated facial gesture recognition and remote data processing suggest that we could create a world of deviceless media interactivity based solely on computer vision. A vast network of cameras, in which our presence (facial recognition) and context (location) could be put to use for personal and public purposes of data access. Oh, but first, we must completely demolish the current surveillance agenda of the entire system in order to make this powerful infrastructure safe, trusted, and truly our own!
Expo Crypto speculates a future in which these systems have the potential to be inverted by tapping into this camera network as an interface to publicly perform personal encryption spectacles. Using a post-surveillance camera network via eye and gesture control to activate private media in any public space with the privacy of a secret visual language. What if we authored our own visual cryptographic systems—not just for transmission of information but for its public display? Our desire to share and perform our data comes to life as unique and personal cryptographs dance across various surfaces. Will we truly liberate our most personal actions and information from institutional surveillance and commodification? Or will we only be hiding the mundane details of existence from our neighbors? We’ll see!
This project was developed for Starts/Speculations, the inaugural exhibition of the Chicago Design Museum. One half of the exhibition traced the history of graphic design production in Chicago, while the other half was dedicated to speculations from a few contemporary designers on the future of communication interactions. On display at the Chicago Design Museum, June 12 through September 30, 2014. Curated by Matt Terdich.