security from security

Topography of the Exhibition  “I.-R.A.S.C.”  security from security

At the end of a dark hallway on the floor of the Kunsthaus Tacheles we find a phrase on the wall that immediately talks to us. A phrase capturing in letters a deeper longing : “hier sind sie sicher” (Here you are safe). This could be an advertising for a family insurance or a punch line for a random company since security is on the upswing. So, what to expect insight?

Already at the entrance the visitors are greeted by a face check. Before allowed to enter into a small vestibule, the visitor is controlled through a little opening in the door. Then he gets access to the main room that looks like a storage, cage or like a temporary prison. It is not easy to orientate, since the relation between man and space is not defined. The visitor wades through the exhibition without  being able to find safe points of reference. Am I inside the space or outside, or am I inside and outside as-well, does this space situate within a superordinate space. …Where am I ?

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The principle of surveillance used for the purpose of this exhibition, shows a parallel to Bentham`s concept of the Panopticon. The set up allows the visitor to observe the entire space from one spot, but only apparently. Metal gates divide the space into different cells through a complicated principle of arrangement restricting the visitors movements.

Different I.-R.A.S.C. interactions can be seen on the other side of the fence.  Infrared video recordings show the I.-R.A.S.C. in action in public space. The recordings stem from control zones familiar, distinct, but they cannot be located by the observer. You notice stopwatches and coordinates, without being given further information on space and time.

From time to time the lethargic silence is disrupted by the severe sound of metal hitting the fence. The sound underlines the uncertainty of the space and might lead to the question how quickly one could end up in such a closed space without noticing.

One of the cells shows a film on surveillance in the GDR published by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung Alles unter Kontrolle” (Everything is under control). Using the example of Berlin, Alexanderplatz the film illustrates among other things, how does surveillance function in the GDR . Next to it, a video from 2007 showing Alexanderplatz as well. The difference is intriguing. Nowadays in the center of the city everything looks very different – the Surveillance is much more modern and efficient than before.

In another cell the visitor can test the I.-R.A.S.C. and follow the interaction with an infra-red surveillance camera on the monitor. A user-friendly manual for the reproduction of the I-R.A.S.C. device is available. From this location, everybody should find its own exit.

 Kunsthaus Tacheles 2007

* The exhibition space during the entire time of the exhibition was under surveillance through the internet. During daytime only an empty room was visible because the exhibition was open only in the evening. From 5p.m. the visitors were barely recognizable on the transmitted images because of the darkness . This type of surveillance opens a new questions concerning “surveillance culture”.  It opens the question of the meaning: surveillance of the “deserted” space.

irasc12surveillance of the “deserted” space (day view photo 1 and night view photo 2)


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