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The Finished piece.

This project is a live interactive installation though because of current financial problems i cant actually afford the kit to install it. So rather than rotting in my head with everything else i can’t afford to do here it is.

The project is about our digital other, here is the artist statement:


“…if you sacrifice liberty for the sake of security you will have neither.”

Benjamin Franklin.


Our identity is by definition, personal. With the rise of the computer age we are now catalogued in everything we do. Our images are taken, our voices sampled, our shopping monitored and analysed. We have, whether we know it or not, fallen into a system of automated information capture.

As this technology is evolving at an unbelievable pace, the worry for many is the morality of the information gathering, its use and it’s dissemination. We often hear the mantra “…the innocent have nothing to fear” but these few words are insufficient in defence of such massive systematic voyeurism. We have a double in these systems, a digital self that shadows our lives; the ghost in the machine is our own.


This work was inspired by the sheer amount of information i (and you) give away daily. I began to look into the statistics of it and it is truly absurd how incompetent and inaccurate the information i can gain from the U.K government is. The statistic of 300 time a day that is parroted in the media is based on the wild potential for capture in London you happen to hang around every major stadium/government building/ commercial area/ tube station you can think has a cctv camera.

The actual piece is made using Processing and Puredata, which are coding environments. I am quite happy to share the code with anyone that is interested please contact me. It need some adjustments but is a true automated parody of the surveillance in place in our country. It will capture, edit and compose the images on screen, with live feed; it will detect the presence of the subject by the pixel change they incur (although this video is still a prototype version of the software). Made in calaboration with Daniel Smith (audio) and Thomas Wilcox (Programming genius).

Interesting links & full citation/bibliography/articles/full proposal:

Proposal: Mitosis

Minor Major Project

Sam Wilcox

Tutor: Julia Winchler.

“…if you sacrifice liberty for the sake of security you will have neither.”

Benjamin Franklin.

The growing sophistication of technology is forever bringing new debate and worries over the effects on society and the morality of it’s use. The rise of CCTV and social surveillance in Britain is a hugely debated example. Britain has more CCTV systems in use than any other country in the world.

We are watched as a nation by increasingly automated cameras that can track our movement and profile our faces, voices, and routines. Local Authorities have the power to monitor our phone calls if deemed necessary and unlike the U.S.A we have no bill of rights.

The reality is fast approaching that of a totalitarian state, how is such technology being justified? Often the anti terror bill is cited as reasoning but it is really the permission, not the justification, “the constant threat of terror”, that causes Wandsworth to have 1 camera for every 4 residents. These systems’ constant capture of our persons is becoming increasingly efficient and invasive (the 3d x-rays at airports for example).

This capture is persistent, not just in imaging but as a by product of the digital age: when we walk down the street, when we travel, when we use a chip and pin, our nectar cards and ATMs, all leave a trail behind us. A digital shadow that is our double in life, our Other.

Mitosis[1] is a live installation piece that draws attention to this splitting of our-selves, our division, and like mitosis in cells we cannot see this splitting. The accumulation of data is giving us a duality of self whether we realise it or not. Mitosis is a fully working parallel to the technologies in place in our country. It is the inversion of these doubles, the ghost is the live feed in the piece, the actual happening, while the frozen figure is the digital counterpart, isolated at it’s last point of contact with our system, composited and archived with its’ predecessors images and audio.



Barthes, R. ‘Camera Lucida’, Fontana Paerbacks, 1984

Foucault, M. ‘Of Other Spaces’, The John Hopkins University Press, 1986

Freud, S. ‘Das Unheimliche (The Uncanny)’, 1919

Jung, C.  ‘Approaching the Unconscious. From Man and his Symbols’. Aldus, London, 1964. 18-103

Koestler, A. The Ghost In The Machine. Macmillan. New York. 1968

Graham, S. Cities Under Siege: the New Military Urbanism. Verso. 2010

Milton, A. Ground Control: Fear and Happiness int eh Twenty-First-Century City. Penguin London. 2009

Rossler, M. If You Lived Here: the City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism. Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2005

Ryle, G. The Concept Of Mind. University of Chicago Press, 2002. FP 1949

Works and Artists

Bansky,                        Greeting From London. And other work.

Christian Boltanski,                Chases High School, 1991

Gillian Wearing,                Self-portraits.

KMA,             aka Kit Monkton and Tom Wexler, interactive work, Creative Urban Lighting. Strange Attractors, 2009

Shimon Attie,                 The Writing on the Wall, 1991-1993

Tacita Dean.


Conceptual:                  Interactive media collaboration.                        Past articles on CCTV. “Voices of the Resistance”. Articles on Government “..Justice, spatial practice and the city”. BBC feature on CCTV With graphs and maps of CCTV

Hackney CCTV Statistics for 2010

Tracking the 300 times a day figure to it’s fictional origins.

David Davies, Former Shadow Home Secretary. Resignation statement.

Key Quotes “ A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens”.[2]

Technical: The home page for Processing PDE.

Tutorials for processing, the page I learn JAVA from. PureData’s home page, the GEM based graphic coding   d   development environment.

The data protection act guidelines for CCTV.

[1] Mitosis (noun); cell division; the process by which a cell divides into two identical daughter cells. As defined by Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 6th Edition. 2006.

[2] “A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens.”
David Davis, resignation statement, 12 June 2008, from chanel 4 news.


This page is intended as a sketchbook for ongoing works, please feel free to comment and disagree. The newest work is going to be a interactive piece, based on concepts of social surveillance and data transfer. The working title is “The Aesthetic of Presence” but this sounds a bit like a essay title at the moment.

The piece will be an installation in situe that records the subject unawares and adds their image to a composite of previous passers by. It will be a live feed video/sound work. We use Puredata and Processing to make the work happen. The locations will be where CCTV has been used in court as evidence. The hole process will be automated.

Below is a mock up using the technology of the kind of aesthetic we will achieve.

The processing sketch is now working. Below are some images taken by a key trigger.

Interesting links: (these guys are amazing)


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