Work by James Coupe Exhibited at The New School, NYC

Panoptic Panorama #2: Five People in a Room
Panoptic Panorama #2: Five People in a Room

Exhibited at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, 
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design, 
2 West 13th St, New York City.
Part of The Public Private February 7 – April 17, 2013

Video cameras, monitors, computers

In this installation, a ring of five cameras is configured to continuously monitor a 360-degree field of view. The resulting panorama is then displayed on five screens on a wall. Software filters the video captured by the cameras to show only one person’s face on each screen. The footage of each person loops, only being replaced once a new person stands in front of one of the cameras.

The software demographically profiles these five people according to their age and gender and adds subtitles from corresponding Facebook status updates. For example, a 25-year-old male in the gallery is conjoined with text from a 25-year-old male on Facebook. The status updates function independently for each individual person, yet also work together as a narrative of five chunks of text representing the five demographics shown on the screens. Each time a new person enters the picture, the narrative is reconfigured without compromising the narrative across the five screens. Hence viewers find themselves in spatial and narrative dialogue/contact with four other previous occupants of the gallery, unable to remove themselves from scrutiny until somebody else puts themselves on display.

Panoptic Panorama #2 juxtaposes the oppressive qualities of centralized control—from surveillance to profiling—with the persistent urge to broadcast oneself through status updates, and explores the resulting narrative (im)possibilities.


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