JAMES MALZAHN

Privacy Forboden II critiques the surveillance state that we currently all live in. The source of this work continues to be the joint surveillance program Optic Nerve which is conducted by the National Security Agency and the Government Communications Headquarters. This program targets and records public and private video chat-rooms. For this project, I place myself in the role of the silent surveillant by entering group chat-rooms and recording screen captures of the participant's conversations and camera feeds. In a previous exhibition – Privacy Forboden at Flux Gallery – I critiqued this subject matter through photography and installation. For this series I have shifted away from framed photography and transform the "ephemeral" in to an illusionary melding of painting and technology. These works consist of gel-transferred images of people that I screen-captured in public Internet chat rooms. The images are applied to canvases and are silk-screened using UV sensitive pigments to incorporate hidden content - reflective aesthetically as the phosphorescent glow of a computer screen and conceptually as clandestine surveillance software. The silk-screened content includes images and chat transcript of the unaware subjects, which is intended to evoke a sense of voyeurism in the viewer. The phosphorescent pigments are made visible by a computer controlled lighting system which alternates between ultraviolet and regular lighting at set intervals. The titles are chosen based on NSA targeted keywords located throughout the chat logs. While the totality of the chat may not be readable it does hint at how the context of these keywords is important in reality yet ignored by mass surveillance programs. Destruction of the image is utilized in the creation of these works for the purpose of creating an eerie atmosphere, mimicking the corrupt systems at work, humanizing the image, and creating a window for the viewer to pause and contemplate the content.   This installation also incorporates functional technology. Wooden painting panels with electronic components display video as well as record and print the attendees of the exhibition.