Facial recognition dates back to 1964/65 where the pioneers of this method, Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson worked on a system using early computers to make a automated facial detection program. The project labeled Man machine would attempt to recognize and identify a person by extract the coordinates of features such as the center of pupils, the inside corner of eyes, the outside corner of eyes, point of widows peak, and so on. Funded by an unknown company who were keen of privacy little of this project saw the light of day, but the foundations had be set.
Fast forward to modern day and we now have systems in place that are recording and storing our facial image without the need of a cooperating test subject . Systems installed in public places can identify individuals in a crowd with the public not being aware of it. This rapid advance in technology and surveillance in general, has caused many to question our right to privacy and the methods of obtaining information without our consent.
Is our image being detected, taken and stored in anonymous databases to be used as a way to protect, influence or monitor society? Last year the F.B.I launched its controversial new system said to be able to produce 55,000 photo searches per day, with the expectation of holding 51 million photographs by the end of 2014. This figure seems large but compared to the colossal 300 million photos posted and stored per day on Facebook, it seems we have blurred boundaries when it comes to privacy and who we chose to give up our information too.
Street photography shares similarities when it comes to rights of privacy and the capturing of peoples images without consent. You could call the street snapper a mobile surveillance unit, creeping around, trying not to arouse suspicion, blending into his environment slyly taking photos of strangers without permission. Then going home to do what he pleases with what he has caught that day. Or is he/she a documenter, preserving moments in time, not by staged choreographed precision, but by a raw candid eye, cataloging our everyday existence in all its bitter sweet glory. Either way the methods of street photography and surveillance both lay in a grey area when it comes to rights of privacy.
The photos connected to this project are my way of representing our current image and surveillance society.A place where our identity is being digitized on a daily basis.