Ordinary people’s social media feeds—and through them, their lives, feelings, and beliefs—are digested in the belly of the friendly-faced information police. The generation that actually watched them in their childhood is starting to come of age as young adults, so they seemed like a particularly potent image to use now.
During Occupy Wall Street (and now with Black Lives Matter), you would see militarized SWAT troops recording footage of protestors. Cameras instead of (or in addition to) guns. Even back in 2011, it seemed pretty obvious that all this footage—hundreds upon hundreds of hours—was ultimately unwatchable by human beings. It was destined for processing by some kind of facial recognition software, either then or further down the line in the future.
My show in Portland is about the hopelessness and the impotence that many of us—particularly the country’s youth—feel when they look at our system. The problems are very clear for most people—financial desperation, the absence of any kind of safety net, the coming climate catastrophe, but all the doors out of the burning building are locked. The people holding the keys are in the penthouse oblivious to the blaze downstairs… or hanging out by the rooftop pool waiting for Elon Musk’s Tesla escape pod to whisk them off to Mars.