Internatsyonale Fonschlong Zikherhayt Apparatus
Seventeen body parts – consisting of mostly 18 in. diameter x 3 ft. long (bedding) foam bolsters covered with custom designed and printed snake skin pattern consisting of the flags of all the nations in the world. Along the top edge, or backbone of the snake, are about a hundred colorfully crochet-covered (cardboard) security cameras. Each 3 ft. length section of the snake sits on it’s own eclectically constructed cart composed of 1 in. square x 24 in. aluminum rods with an unwieldy combination of mixed (and specifically not matched) bicycle, baby carriage, tractor, wheelchair wheels and castors. The head of the snake has two 8 in. diameter (earth) globes for eyes.
Backstory on the name:
The name is a bastardized German-Yiddish translation from English of “The International Flag-Snake Security Apparatus”. I have to be honest here, I really just wanted to use the word “schlong” in the name of an artwork exhibited in a museum. Specifically for the recent Aesthetics & Values Exhibition at the Frost. “Schlong, is a well-known slang term migrated from the Yiddish and German “schlange” – the actual word for “snake” and common slang use of it to refer to the male organ, and in turn to use that slang term to describe a person, much in the same way, some one would derogatively call someone a “dick”. So I wanted to turn it back around, and use the Yiddish “schlong” to describe a snake and added more German sounding words to add some unwieldy authoritarian sounding heft, like the name of a massive bureaucratic agency. I wanted the name as well as the work to mirror the subject it was commenting on. If the subject was too big and unwieldy, I reasoned, so should the work and even the name. Everything about the subject is about too much.Too much surveillance and too much exploitation of the data collected by that survellience. I plead guilty to being a provocateur with a sense of humor.
About the work:
The Internatsyonale Fonschlong Zikherhayt Aperatus is a statement about how the culture of surveillance and the violations committed by the corporate-surveillance state that not only listens, watches and gathers massive amounts of information through data mining necessary for identifying consumer populations but also acculturates the public into accepting the intrusion of surveillance technologies and privatized commodified values into all aspects of their lives.
We willingly offer up our personal information to social media and other corporate-based websites which is gathered daily as we move from one targeted web site to the next across multiple screens and digital apparatuses. This collecting of information might be most evident in the surveillance cameras that inhabit every public space from the streets, commercial establishments and workplaces to the schools our children attend as well as in the myriad scanners placed at the entry points of airports, stores, sporting events and the like.
Yet the most important transgression may not only be happening through the unwarranted watching, listening and collecting of information but also in a culture that normalizes surveillance by upping the pleasure quotient (mimicked by the crocheted cameras) and enticements for consumers who use the new digital technologies and social networks to simulate false notions of community and to socialize young people into a culture of security and commodification in which their identities, values and desires are inextricably tied to a culture of private addictions, self-help and commodification.
Surveillance is now global, reaching beyond borders that no longer provide an obstacle to collecting information and spying on individuals, governments and corporations. The details of our daily lives are not only on full display but are being monitored, collected and stored in databanks waiting to be used for commercial, security or political purposes. At the same time, the right to privacy is eagerly given up by millions of people for the wonders of social networking or the varied seductions inspired by consumer fantasies.
Surveillance is not simply pervasive, it has become normalized. Orwell could not have imagined either the intrusive capabilities of the new high-powered digital technologies of surveillance and display, nor could he have envisioned the growing web of political, cultural and economic partnerships between modes of government and corporate sovereignty capable of collecting almost every form of communication in which human beings engage. What is new in the post-Orwellian world is not just the emergence of new and powerful technologies used by governments and corporations to spy on people and assess personal information as a way to either attract ready-made customers or to sell information to advertising agencies, but the emergence of a widespread culture of surveillance.
The point of no return in the emergence of the corporate-state surveillance apparatus is not strictly confined to the task of archiving immense pools of data collection to be used in a number of illegal ways.It is in creating a culture in which surveillance becomes trivialized, celebrated, and legitimated as reasonable and unquestioned behavior.
Credit: Henry A. Giroux http://bit.ly/1eOGj6e