Secret Service Brought In Over Apple Store Web-Cam Art Stunt

Secret Service Brought In Over Apple Store Web-Cam Art Stunt

An artist hacks computers around New York, including ones at the Apple Store, to make them take photos of the people looking at them, then play those photos as virtual slideshows.

Claudia Cukrov
  • 7 july 2011

Artist Kyle McDonald has created software which photographs people using public computers as part of his project ‘People Staring At Computers.’

McDonald’s ‘photographic intervention’ took place after he installed the software on public computers around New York – including the Apple store – over three days.  Taking a photo every minute, the application collected over a thousand photos of people at the targeted computers.  Before posting the results on the project’s Tumblr page, the artist displayed the shots back to the unsuspecting photo-subjects using another custom-built application. McDonald comments:

I decided to exhibit them in the same places they were originally captured. So I wrote another app that could be remotely triggered after being installed on all the computers in one location. When the app starts up, it takes a picture and slowly fades in that photo. A moment later, it starts cycling through older photos.

Most people instinctively quit the app less than 10 seconds after recognizing their own face, so the exhibition was relegated to the unused machines.

The project has raised a few eyebrows on privacy issues and in breaking news McDonald has had his laptop seized by the secret service for allegedly violating the Fraud and related activity in connection with computers law.

Watch the project clip below:


People Staring at Computers from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

People Staring At Computers


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