The Threat of Insecurity and Isolation in Public Spaces

Curator's Note

StalkShow is a screen-based, wearable performance and installation, which deals with the
threat of insecurity and isolation in public spaces. It is exhibited in spaces where people
are in transit, such as train stations, underground stations, museums, theatres, plazas and
shopping malls. StalkShow is designed to be a meeting place, accommodating the vulnerable
process of balancing fear and desire for the ‘other’. In a visual and poetic way, StalkShow explores the emotional and social tensions between visibility and invisibility, privacy and trust. A
performer carries a backpack, containing a laptop with a touch screen, a wearable billboard,
to which a webcam is attached. Individual audience members are invited to touch the screen
and navigate through an archive of statements on the subject of ‘safety’. As participants
touch the screen the webcam records their faces, which then appear instantaneously on the
screen as portraits.

The urban screen in StalkShow is a critical play zone designed to rethink the dynamics of
over-regulated behaviour, mental projection, and the desire to eliminate violence. StalkShow
is inspired by Michel Foucault’s texts on panopticism and power structures. Foucault de-
scribed enclosing and excluding disciplinary systems such as family, school, factory and
prison. However, in the contemporary panopticon of ubiquitous digital networks, notions
of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ in relations of power are shifting, as are the notions of ‘insider’ and
‘outsider’. In our longing for safety and attempts to control the self and the potential ‘other’
we increasingly demand total transparency in our public spaces. However, this very fear is
self-perpetuating – we are constantly expecting a potentially present, threatening, but (still)
invisible ‘other’. In this context, Paul Virilio writes about the speed by which ‘others’ appear
in virtual space, as visible or invisible information, creating the paradoxical expectation of the
unexpected. This potentially present stalker or terrorist can be everywhere – in physical and
virtual space. Virilio describes this social experience of fear and desire we create together as
‘panic, as a social event’.

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