New Photography Book Features Portraits Captured Only With Surveillance Technology


Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg’s new book of portraits, “Spirit is a Bone,” which features Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevi, is the result of their co-opting a surveillance device created and used by Moscow security to monitor its citizens, resulting in a book that is more political statement than coffee table decoration.


The surveillance technology is a facial-recognition system designed to capture people as they pass through border crossings, subway stations, and other public areas. The technology captures images of faces from multiple angles in a split-second, using these shots to construct a 3-D rendering of the head that can be stored and analyzed. The cold lifeless quality of the image that results is not lost on Chanarin and Broomberg, who make a point of highlighting that quality in their work using the device. They tell The Guardian:

“There is never a moment in the capturing of the ‘image’ when human contact is registered; the subject’s gaze, or any connection between photographer and sitter that we would ordinarily rely on in looking at a portrait, is a complete fiction in this space. What we’re seeing is the negation of that humanity: the digital equivalent of the death mask.”

[Via The Guardian]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.