Paranoid Shelter, invisibly boxed

Paranoid Shelter

A high density of monitoring devices crowds the space of the installation “Paranoid Shelter“, a project by the architecture research group fabric | ch. Despite the word “shelter” reminding of an atavistic sense of protection given by a closed and protected space, the skeletal appearance of the work is already alienating. The installation space is in fact occupied by three tall posts, dark and imposing, from which some steel cables depart, following the invisible boundary of the cones of the shoots of a videocamera that is also positioned on the posts. Intersecting each other, the cables draw a network – not very thick but compelling. The volume drawn by the intricacies of cables is a hyper-monitored area where sensors, cameras and microphones measure and track any movement or sound, temperature variation, the concentration of O2 and CO2, atmospheric pressure, light variations etc.. The data are recorded in realtime, stored in different databases according to the specific type of information, and finally crossed at various levels and related to the time and the space through an advanced system of complex analysis. The recorded activities are made available to visitors through a wifi access point network. Such a hyper monitored microcosm makes visible the mechanisms of data gathering (heightening them) which are starting to crowd our public space and our cities: in fact all cities are now aiming to reach a very sophisticated level of control (in jargon: “smart” ). The sense of claustrophobia created by this area without any physical wall directs attention to a crucial aspect of urban planning: the way we use ICT technologies has an enormous weight on the livability of a place. Their invisibility further stresses the urgent need to incorporate shared and public values when planning ICT apparatus, for making equal the basic infrastructure that we consider fundamental.
Chiara Ciociola