Poster Descriptions

Visual description of the Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep exhibition, by B. D. Owens. 

 On South Castle Street, in Dundee, next to Slessor Gardens, there is a long established public art poster exhibition space on one of the wooden hoardings that fence off one of the new waterfront development sites. This public art project is called Sharing Not Hoarding. 

My exhibition, Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep, is being exhibited at the Sharing Not Hoarding site until the 16th of January 2021. This particular exhibition includes online elements too.

See below, a visual description of the exhibition posters, and the visual elements in the online QR code portals. There are also links to these QR code portals in the text below. 

There are 18 framed posters in the exhibition. Each poster is the size of an average bus stop poster. They are positioned 40cm off the ground, lined up in a straight line, along grey painted plywood hoardings, next to the pavement on South Castle Street in Dundee. 

From a distance, 16 of the posters in the centre of the installation look similar because they have the same core elements. The first and the last poster are almost identical except for 2 subtle differences in the imagery. These differences are: the shadow camera icon is in the opposing corner position, and the red broken line has a different number of dots and dashes. 

The first and the last poster have a brown manila paper texture background. 

The 16 posters in the centre have 2 textures of paper, one laid on top of the other. Brown manila paper texture background, and overlaid, a white horizontal strip of paper that goes to the edge of the poster. From a distance, this creates an illusion that connects the posters together. At the centre of each of the white horizontal strips of paper, there is a black square pattern which is a QR code. In the centre of the QR code, there is a word. So, reading the posters from left to right these make up a sentence and two questions. Below the white paper strip, on the lower portion of brown manila paper texture there is text (written in red Helvetica typeface) which carries on from poster to poster. There is a bolded word in each of these sections of red text that is the same as the word in the centre or the QR code. Below the red text, reads the Twitter hashtag #TheParadoxAndTheCreep written in blue.

Along the top of each poster, there is a shadow icon of a surveillance camera. The surveillance camera is in a slightly different position on each poster, so as a person walks along beside the posters, the camera appears to follow the person. On each poster, under the camera shadow image, there is a red line made up of dots and dashes. 

The first and the last poster have three colours of text and two different typefaces. Below the red broken line, is the title of the exhibition in larger lettering. It reads – Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep. This text is written in black Courier typeface, the word ‘surveillance’ is more faint, transparent, like a shadow. 

Below the title text for these interpretation posters is written in dark red Helvetica typeface, except for the Twitter hashtags that are written in blue. Read the interpretation text next:

In this new artwork, B. D. Owens explores the expanding and intersecting arenas of “Surveillance Paradox” and “Surveillance Creep”. Using the format of experimental visual essay, Owens incorporates layers of analogue and digital codes, imagery and texts into real life and virtual spaces. The QR codes are portals to internet locations, citations and footnotes, and the Twitter hashtag #TheParadoxAndTheCreep is a place for expanded thoughts and viewer interaction. All interactions on this Twitter hashtag will become part of the artwork. 

To access the online portion of the artwork, point your mobile phone camera at the QR codes on the posters, then follow the links. If your phone does not open the QR codes you can find the links on Twitter at #TheParadoxAndTheCreep. You do not need a Twitter account to view the hashtag page. 

Before you travel to the next level, through the QR code portals, take a closer look! Can you find the hidden message on these posters? It’s written in analogue code. There is a prize for the first 10 people to contact the artist with the decoded message. When you find the answer, send your message to B. D. Owens through the contact form at his website www.bdowens.co.uk/contact/

For more information, visit www.sharingnothoarding.org

This is how the words in the the centre of the QR codes read when you bring them together:

We Are Being Watched. Do You Feel Safe? When Techno Creep Enters Our Lives, Who Profits?

This is how the red text on the posters read when you bring them together:

Some will say 

we didn’t really have a choice anyway. 

There are so many cameras now. 

Being the watcher or 

being the watched 

has become accepted (mostly). 

If you pretend that they do not exist, 

could you forget that they are there? 

Some feel protected 

and some feel rejected.

Some feel both safe and

afraid under the gaze. 

When did we ask about the 

military surveillance technologies 

that have been creeping 

into our everyday? 

It rarely enters 

our minds that surveillance might be 

shaping our lives. 

Who would consent to

personal dataveillance 

if we knew who profits from surveillance?

The online portals contain 2 images at the top of each page, next to some e-readable text. The larger image has a brown manila paper texture background and the title of the exhibition – Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep. The smaller image is the image of the corresponding poster. Each poster is also a hyperlink to the Sharing Not Hoarding website. The Twitter hashtags are also hyperlinks to the Twitter page. The written text entries in the portals are primarily in red lettering on a yellow background, but some of the text is written in black lettering and it is underlined. These underlined black sections are hyperlinks to articles, podcasts and other internet locations. There are also some videos and links to webcams embedded in a few of the portals. 

Next, I will list the individual content text for each of the 16 remaining posters by describing them using the word at the centre of each QR code. Under each entry, I will also list the website link to the QR code portal for each poster. 

 

– ‘We’ (QR code poster) red text reads: 

Some will say  

we didn’t really have a choice anyway. 

Here is the link to the ‘We’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/we/

 

– ‘Are’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

There are so many cameras now.

Here is the link to the ‘Are’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/are/

 

– ‘Being’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

Being the watcher or

Here is the link to the ‘Being’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/being/

 

– ‘Watched.’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

being the watched

has become accepted (mostly).

Here is the link to the ‘Watched.’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/watched/

 

– ‘Do’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

If you pretend that they do not exist,

Here is the link to the ‘Do’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/do/

 

– ‘You’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

could you forget that they are there?

Here is the link to the ‘You’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/you/

 

– ‘Feel’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

Some feel protected 

and some feel rejected.

Here is the link to the ‘Feel’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/feel/

 

– ‘Safe?’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

Some feel both safe and

afraid under the gaze.

Here is the link to the ‘Safe?’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/safe/

 

– ‘When’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

When did we ask about the

Here is the link to the ‘When’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/when/

 

– ‘Techno’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

military surveillance technologies

 Here is the link to the ‘Techno’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/techno/

 

– ‘Creep’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

that have been creeping 

into our everyday?

Here is the link to the ‘Creep’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/creep/

 

– ‘Enters’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

It rarely enters

Here is the link to the ‘Enters’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/enters/

 

– ‘Our’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

our minds that surveillance might be

Here is the link to the ‘Our’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/our/

 

– ‘Lives’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

shaping our lives.

Here is the link to the ‘Lives’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/lives/

 

– ‘Who’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

Who would consent to

personal dataveillance

Here is the link to the ‘Who’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/who/

 

– ‘Profits?’ (QR code poster) red text reads:

if we knew who profits from surveillance?

Here is the link to the ‘Profits?’ QR code portal http://bdowens.co.uk/profits/

 

This is my first attempt at writing a visual description for an artwork. I hope it is useful.