THIS AREA WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED
“This area will be photographed” is a public performance of implied photographic consent, inspired by Google’s street view and satellite surveillance. Posted signs and handbills alerted the public present in Union Square that a photograph would be taken of the area at a precise time. The area to be photographed was marked with bright orange tape on the pavement, and the photograph itself was shot from a hidden location three stories above at precisely the time noted on handbills and signage. While mimicking surveillance methods, this action politely notified the general public beforehand, giving everyone a chance to get ready for their picture to be taken.
Roughly half an hour before I took the final photograph, I worked with a team in the park to post signage, distribute fliers, and delineate area of photograph to be taken using orange tape on the ground. The photograph itself was taken from a building overlooking Union Square, and was shot with a 6 x 7 film camera on color negative film, in order to capture as much detail as possible. Actual Google employees on vacation were in the park at that time by coincidence, and they chose to pose for the photograph.
While some surveillance in Union Square is visible, it is likely that significant electronic surveillance is also happening in this space largely invisible to the public. Fine text on the signage used during this performance reads, “And the NYPD may be using a surveillance device called Stingray in public spaces such as these to connect to your cell phone and collect your metadata and content, including unique id, texts, and phone call data.” Many people present, when handed a flyer by my team, questioned if that was true.