New Museum’s pop-up gift shop sells design objects to protect your personal privacy in a world of consistent surveillance.
Privacy is a top concern amongst internet users. They face daily threats from both private companies and government institutions. How can surfers preserve their private space when all their online behavior is observable? One way is to make oneself invisible to drones and other satellite imaging software, the rationale being: if they can’t see you, they can’t see what you’re doing.
Artist Adam Harvey intends to provoke discussions about privacy with an art and design project that aims to raise awareness of advanced forms of surveillance such as UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), colloquially known as drones, by creating counter-surveillence items with the collaboration of fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield. Their ‘anti-drone wear’ collection is inspired by the Muslim burqa and the scarf. As Harvey explains on this website, “conceptually, these garments align themselves with the rationale behind the traditional hijab and burqa: to act as the veil which separates man or the world from God, replacing God with drone.”
Among other items that will be exposed during this pop-up “Privacy Gift Shop” that will take place in the New Museum, in New York from August 28th to September 22nd you can also find “OFF Pocket” which blocks incoming and outgoing calls, a redesign of the I Love NY t-shirt with an optical character resistant font illegible to the NSA and a Metal Dollar Bill to shield your wallet from RFID (Radio-frequency identification) deciphering.
In a press release Harvey explained his amaze on why an intelligence agency requested to publish his art work in a classified document:
In 2013 I received an inquiry from an intelligence agency to publish my artwork in a classified document. I obliged but was frustrated by the odd request. Was I a suspect or an inspiration? And what does it mean for an artwork to become classified intel? Beguiled, I imagined a way to make my work as accessible and unclassified as possible. The result of that inquiry is the Privacy Gift Shop. It’s my vision to bring privacy and counter surveillance ideas to a wider audience and engage in discussions about how art, design, and creativity can play a role in protecting privacy.”
People in Afghanistan or other war conflict areas are regularly watched by drones. Paradoxically, these garments made with an exterior coat of silver cost between $500 and 2,300 dollars each, which makes them not affordable to the people who most would need them. But as Harvey expresses in an interview with The World “privacy is a luxury item, and this light weight armor is mostly designed for a “fashionable paranoid.”
Images from Adam Harvey