Casual Encounters (2013)
Now that personal wireless devices have become fixtures in our lives, what does it mean to be constantly networked? What information are we broadcasting without knowing it and what does that information reveal about each of us? Casual Encounters is a piece about the relationships formed by devices when their owners are not looking. Using a portable WiFi router, loaded with custom firmware, I am passively tracking every wireless device (smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc) with which I come in contact. The technology is similar to systems used in retail analytics applications, which track customers as they move around stores. The data is then visualized in a large-scale projection application, which borrows from the aesthetic of surveillance command and control systems, as imagined in popular culture. This visualization includes a representation of how many devices were around me at a given point in time, where I was geographically, and which other devices each of those devices has connected to through common WiFi networks. Ultimately, it provides an ever-evolving map of the promiscuous nature of wireless devices and the extent to which their social lives far outshine those of even their most outgoing owners. Casual Encounters will be presented as part of the Vogue Exhibition at Endeavor Arts Gallery in Calgary from October 29-December 28, 2013.