IIII+I with Adam Harvey

Last Friday, Adam Harvey visited Base for our 4+1 event. A Brooklyn-based artist, technologist, and designer, Adam focuses on privacy and counter-surveillance technologies. Given the intertwining relationship between fashion and technology in Adam’s work, the thought-provoking presentation questioned how image making can negotiate privacy, data ownership, power and access.

Adam began by explaining Stealth Wear, a clothing line that reduces one’s thermal signature and protects against thermal imaging cameras used by military drones. By incorporating street fashion with high-tech textiles, he designed and produced hoodies, burkas and veils as commentary on the political nature of heat imaging.

CVDazzle is a guidebook on how to camouflage oneself against face-recognition with cubist-inspired hairstyles and makeup. This technique ruptures facial symmetry and tonal contours as a way to outwit facial recognition algorithms. However, faced with ever-evolving face-detection technology, CVDazzle is no longer effective as of 2010. When commenting on the race to outsmart technology, Adam noted: “as with fashion, you always have to be one step ahead.”

In his work, Adam avoids the economic framework where art can be bought by the masses only when its pedestal life has expired, making it gift-shop worthy. Instead, he chose retail and e-commerce as a direct way to share and sell his work. He launched the Privacy Gift Shop, a traveling pop-up shop and online gift store where Stealth Wear and other counter surveillance designs are available to purchase.

Adam’s ultimate goal is raise awareness and help create an informed context where pervasive technology is questioned and personal privacy is openly discussed. His work is a refreshing perspective and a poignant statement: the right to privacy can no longer be a commodity for the tech savvy only. We look forward to seeing more of Adam’s work!