Friday, April 16, 2010
Surviellance, by Ernie Gehr, located Madison Square Park in New York City, takes a different approach towards site-specific and situational art. It is a four channel high definition video installation which exhibits the activity within the park. Its site specificity causes controversy because it takes the role of combining technology with nature. The idea of surveillance and cameras brings back the good old ideas of Big Brother except with a twist. Many people in New York City are used to the idea of cameras watching their moves due to security reasons. Although people may be used to being watched, many do not expect being watched in a park. By using the park as the source being surveillanced it makes people question to what extent is too much security. Daily New York City citizens walk by posters stating "If you see something, say something." Many are not affected by these posters and do not challenge the idea of surviellance. By being able to see themselves on camera, it makes them contemplate their amount of freedom. To some extent the idea of constantly being watched even in a park can creep some people out. This exhibition creates a situation where it is possible to challenge the idea of security and the path that the United States government is taking. It forces the controversial concept of privacy to come up, begging the question of what does one give up for another thing. What is more important, one's own privacy or one's potential safety. At the same time, by combining nature with technology, Gehr allows people to see how the two have become intertwined. How nature has become a part of technology, something that needs to be controlled and watched. The exhibition lets people to see the beauty within nature but yet how the human race has become to limit it. The site contributes to the overall message the art sends across along with the situation and question of compliance and inactivity. It makes people think of issues they may have otherwise ignored or refused to think of. Surveillance serves its purpose by at least for a brink of a second forcing people to think of the role of the inidividual versus the role of society.