2 October 2013 - 23 February 2014
Are we really safer when CCTV cameras track public squares, streets, and buildings, or intelligence agencies mass scan our emails? Is it really helpful for our software to suggest things supposed to interest us? In such a world, can security ever be compatible with individual liberty? These and other hot-button issues inspired our exhibition “Out of Control? Life in a world of mass surveillance.” Our selection of 200 exhibits from past and present illustrates how surveillance and control are more than just dark powers subjugating defenceless underlings. Instead, they range from systematically scanning personal data to just watching the neighbours from behind the curtains. In a situation of control, information is gathered on a particular individual to induce her or him to behave in a set way. Yet at times we even consciously allow ourselves to be controlled or, in different situations, like to observe others. To do justice to this duality, our exhibits are presented from two different perspectives: the observer and the observed.
This exhibition highlights how and why people and technologies exercise control, and how this influences our thoughts and actions. In our review of the history of control and surveillance, we ask whether we have become freer or more monitored down the years. Granted, every society is originally formed from knowledge collected about others in the vicinity – but when does knowledge sharing became an invasion of privacy? Our exhibition raises and explores these and other vital questions.