Hyperrhiz 15

Street Ghosts: Surveillance & the Unrepresentable

Ali Rachel Pearl
University of Southern California

Citation: Pearl, Ali Rachel. “Street Ghosts: Surveillance & the Unrepresentable.” Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, no. 15, 2016. doi:10.20415/hyp/015.g03

Abstract: This essay takes as its main object Paolo Cirio’s Street Ghosts, which is both a digital archive and a physical street art project present in cities around the world. According to the artist’s statement about the work: “In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras, whose ghostly, virtual presence I marked in Street Art fashion at the precise spot in the real world where they were photographed.”

My essay, “Street Ghosts: Surveillance & The Unrepresentable,” is a recombinatory flash critical essay with three aims:

  1. To transcend the critical/creative divide that is often upheld in academic and artistic settings and institutions where we consider the artwork to be separate from the commentary on it and where scholars write about works of art via traditional academic essays that enforce many formal and theoretical constraints.
  2. To comment on the Street Ghosts project with my own and others’ theoretical insights about issues of surveillance in the US and representation (and the unrepresentable) in art. The text portion of my project provides eight distinct text blocks that can be viewed by clicking the icon of walking people that is located below the text. The user can also mouse over the text to mix the various text blocks together, thus creating a series of seemingly serendipitous cut up critiques that demonstrate how the ideas of these text blocks think and function in combination.
  3. To force readers into the position of surveilling a US street via a live stream pulled from a random source on the internet so that readers must consider how ubiquitous and pervasive surveillance truly is. I want readers to question other ways in which they are participating in supporting surveillance culture, even passively or inadvertently, by continuing to use resources provided by companies like Google.

VIEW PROJECT: Street Ghosts

Works Cited

Cirio, Paolo. Street Ghosts. 15 September 2012. streetghosts.net.

Davis, Angela. “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex.” Colorlines, 10 September 1998. Web.

Galloway, Alexander. “Are Some Things Unrepresentable?” Theory, Culture, & Society. Vol 28 No 7, December 2011.

Rancière, Jacques. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. London: Continuum International, 2010.