ANU School of Art and Design Project Space

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Conspicuous was an ephemeral installation that transformed the ANU School of Art and Design, Project Space into a world created in paint and 3D elements. The work emerged from my response to ideas around data mining and population surveillance.


Conspicuous was an invitation to peel back a few layers and contemplate our own relationship with data tracking. Conspicuous explores the covert tactics of modern security and surveillance that are undertaken on behalf of the Australian public. On one hand, Australians understand that the Government employs a diverse range of security strategies, but the exact nature of their tactics are opaque.


The existence of the Australian Signals Directorate verified twitter account, and particularly their first tweet in October 2018, summarises this duplicity: Hi internet, ASD here. Long time listener, first time caller.


Small 3D printed filament nodes appear throughout the installation at selected points of intersection in the graphic mural. The decagon form of these nodes, and the large-scale painted dome on the western wall of the Foyer Space, allude to geodesic domes (geo-domes). Geo-domes are lightweight polyhedron structures that sit over radar dishes to hide their direction and thus their surveillance target.


Skipping into a surveillance state, blinded by distractions and deadlines. Stopping to smell the candy clues, the sweet scent of social media overwhelms. Signals are sent from this node to that node. Messages are constant and data is collated to continue the expanse of an imperceptible underworld that monitors THEM but never us. The benign is a barrier, we barely notice, it blends into the perfect mask. Jokes and warmth put us at ease – Agencies tweet like they’re friends, make me laugh and I’ll trust you.


Images shown: Brenton McGeachie, Katy Mutton + Waratah Lahy, 2019