After speaking to Matt Johnston I went away and began to think about the way that Will always seemed aware of the camera in the room and even though he was focused on his work for much of the time there was always part of him that remained guarded against this intrusion. I began to wonder if this would be the case with other subjects so I set up my camera again, this time in the room of another house mate, Alex to see if it would yield similar results.
Once again there where similar traits and there was always the feeling that he was aware that he was being photographed. This got me thinking about all the digital devices we have these days and the way we constantly interact within social media platforms, could we ever be alone? As Matt had remarked earlier about the amount of data that must be constantly streaming through the room it was only a small step to start thinking about how we are constantly connected and that we are subjected to an endless barrage of communication.
The situation does not end at our voluntary involvement with data asthe things we do leaves a data trail. Rory Cellan-Jones (Cellan-Jones 2014), BBC’s technology correspondent recently looked into the ways we leave a data trail. There are 3 major bodies that track our data, The police and security services, the government and big businesses and they achieve this through a number of methods. The devices we carry such as smart phones are often transmitting our location and even if we have disabled this feature it is always possible for the phone companies to track the location of the phone remotely. This is not the only way your phone can be used, it was alleged by Edward Snowden that the NSA are able to power on a phone that has been switched off and activate the microphone to eavesdrop your conversation (Scharr 2014)
It is also possible to track laptops in a similar way. The police even run a scheme that will help someone find a device should it be lost and stolen, you are even able to activate the camera and take a picture of the person using it making it possible to have your picture taken without realising it and that image to be used without your knowledge (Hanson 2012).
So, if you turn off your phone and remove the battery, cut up your credit and debit cards and close down your laptop can you then drop off the radar. Unfortunately not, If you drive then your car can be used to pinpoint your location, in addition to numerous CCTV cameras and number plate recognition systems available means any movement could be traced and although your car may be off camera when you parked it you would not be far from the last camera that picked you up. If this is not close enough though, many cars come with built-in systems that can be used to find the exact location, they are also capable of recording your journey and how you drive, some even have built-in cameras that constantly record the driver to see what they are doing (Autos 2009).
Even if you don’t drive or own a car then unless you plan to live your life naked you can not escape. Walmart made headlines back in 2010 when they began a trial program to fit RFID tracking tags into their Jeans and Underpants allowing them to track the activities of those who have purchased and are wearing them (Smith 2010).
There is very little than anyone can do to prevent leaving a data trail but even if someone manages to achieve this and prevent themselves from being tracked then their sudden absence from the system is bound to bring them unwanted attention anyway.
In todays digital age our lives, habits and movements are constantly monitored. Much of what we do is voluntary but even without it we are unable to escape to escape the voyeuristic gaze of those around us. Governments, Corporations and Law Enforcement keep us under close scrutiny and when we don’t interest them social media is constantly broadcasting out our lives to the world at large.
It is this theme that I want to use to create my still images which ill elaborate on in my next post.