As artist Leo Selvaggio attests to in his video above, privacy is becoming a precious commodity. With the ever-increasing prevalence of technology and mobile devices, it’s difficult to maintain a low profile. Many of our actions, both online and out and about, are being recorded and surveilled, either on a camera or by virtually tracking our positions via mobile devices. This has driven Selvaggio to create a work of art and a hacking device that allows for its wearer to walk about undetected by the cameras that surveil them - URME Surveillance. Pronounced “you-are-me”, this device is a 3-D printed rubber mask manufactured by ThatsMyFace.com. The level of rendering is realistic enough to fool the facial recognition software, so that every person wearing the mask is recognized as Leo Selvaggio, not themselves.
Selvaggio has been living and working in Chicago, stating in his video that it is the most surveilled city in America - with over 25,000 cameras rigged with military-grade facial recognition software, it’s easy to see why Selvaggio would want to create some sort of bypass for those who would rather not be monitored. Instead of hiding the public’s face, Selvaggio is giving them a new one, “protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.”
Aside from the rubber mask, URME Surveillance has two other products available to users: a paper mask, best worn in large groups, and a video encryption software that places Selvaggio’s face over those that appear in the video. Selvaggio is aware of the less savory activities that these masks could be used for, but insists that URME Surveillance is an “organized artistic intervention”, driven by a desire to allow an individual the ability to “assert themselves in a public space”. As such, it is expected that these devices are used responsibly by those who choose to wear them.
To learn more about URME Surveillance or support its Indiegogo campaign, click here.
- Lea Hamilton
Save the internet privacy.