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January 9 February 14, 2009

Reception: Friday, January 9th, 7 – 9 PM, Press Preview 6 – 7 PM

Curated by Peg Curtain

Featured: Madeline Djerejian, Kate Drendel, Charles Harlan, Brad Robinson, Surveillance Camera Players, Futaba Suzuki, Edin Vélez, and Hsuan Hsuan Wu.

“Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cell phones. I’m talking about health records . . .  in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?”  Spoken in 2001 by fictional character Sam Seaborne in the popular television drama The West Wing, this statement rings uncannily true today.  Advancing surveillance and communication technologies coupled with a government preoccupied by a perceived increase in terrorist threats, are pushing the bounds of our ideas of privacy and protection.

Is the idea of surveillance in the mind of a populace a more powerful tool than the surveillance itself?  What does surveillance, or a perception of surveillance, do to us as subjects? How do we now see others, and imagine ourselves to be seen? Even more importantly, how do we come to perform frequent acts of self-surveillance?  Blurring lines between observer and observed, the eight talented emerging artists in Seen | Unseen toe typically taboo lines by openly photographing strangers, directly challenging and mocking surveillance cameras, and willingly placing themselves in the role of the observed and us in the role of observers. Images are reflected, complicated, and obscured. Installations reconstruct and re-appropriate in miniature the surveillance of our homes and property, exposing our phobias, and anxiously re-contextualizing accepted security methods.  Video works invert the supposed anonymity of large crowds and explore our culture’s obsession with reality television.

Seen | Unseen asks us to question our boundaries and consider the future of a culture increasingly consumed with the need to see and be seen.