BCNM at Shenzhen Biennale

28 Dec, 2019

BCNM at Shenzhen Biennale

BCNM students Rashad Timmons, Lian Song, Bryan Truitt, and Eleni Oikonomaki are presenting their work, Collective Obscura, at the world’s most attended architecture exhibition! The Shenzhen Biennale prompts a critical reflection on how digital technologies are impacting urban life.

Collective Obscura was chosen to be exhibited in the "Eyes of the City" section, curated by MIT professor Carlo Ratti (Chief Curator), Politecnico di Torino and SCUT (Academic Curators).

You can view a preview video of the works here!

From the description of Eyes of the City:

What we are currently facing is an “utopia or oblivion” crossroads, to say it with the words of one of the most notable thinkers of the past century, Richard Buckminster Fuller. We believe that one of the fundamental duties of architects and designers today is to grapple with this momentous shift, and engage people in the process. “Eyes of the City” aims to experiment with these emerging scenarios to better comprehend them, deconstructing the potential uses of new technologies in order to make them accessible to everyone and inspire people to form an opinion. Using critical design as a tool, the exhibition seeks to create experiences that will encourage people to get involved in defining the ways in which new technologies will shape their cities in years to come. For this reason, it recognizes in Shenzhen’s Futian high-speed railway station its natural home – a place where to reach a broad, diverse audience of intentional visitors and accidental passersby, and a space where, just like in most other liminal transportation hubs, the impact of an “Eyes of the City” scenario is likely going to be felt the most.

Learn more here!

From the description of Collective Obscura:

Collective Obscura explores the ways fabrics and critical fashion design can be used to counter the ubiquity of surveillance technologies.

Attuned to the ways surveillance and various forms of biometric data capture are used to target, criminalize, and dox people, especially those within vulnerable communities, our exhibition showcases designs of our wearable technologies—sewn garments that mobilize the material properties of various fabrics to achieve tactics of camouflage, obscurity and opacity. Through garments and modes of fabrication, the team emphasizes the use of textile craft as a subversive tactic of embodied resistance against centralized, mechanistic surveillance. Rather than reading the collection of wearables as nontechnical, they assert that the fabrics themselves inhere a suite of technological affordances that can be activated through the strategic inflection of their material properties and are quite effective when directed against facial detection software.

The exhibition also includes a series of mini-workshops where participants learn accessible and easily reproducible methods of fabrication that can undermine facial detection systems. The team feels it is crucially important to equip participants with the tools to utilize some of these strategies in their everyday lives. The workshops will include how to quickly transfer subversive prints onto apparel and accessories, instruction on useful fabrication techniques, and how to use light and gesture to impair facial detection systems.