Virtual Control - Security and the Urban Imagination
09 July 2015–27 September 2015, 10:00 am–5:00 pm
The Practice Space, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD
Playfully walking between urban facts and fictions, this exhibition by artist/photographer Max Colson presents a series of investigations on controlled urban areas.
The focus is privatised public space - urban environments which are nominally public, but owned and managed by commercial entities. The images on display explore how carefully camouflaged surveillance technology is used to monitor these areas, and, potentially, to manipulate behaviour. Other parts of the exhibition look at how these spaces are marketed and present an idealized version of urban environments.
Whether documenting the networks of sensors designed to 'track' suspect individuals or exploring how plants are used to disguise security architecture, this exhibition suggests how paranoia intrudes upon the urban imagination.
Max Colson is a photographer and Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence at the UCL Urban Laboratory, working with Dr Ben Campkin. His residency used performative photographic practice to dramatise the use of security features in public space, questioning how design engenders feelings of safety or a sense of individual or collective distrust. The project aims to heighten viewers' awareness of the way that security design, surveillance and paranoia interact within the urban environment. They also use humour to emphasise the limits of photographs as documentary evidence and suggest the influence of human bias on photojournalistic investigation, questioning issues around surveillance and security design in relation to the credibility of the investigation itself.