The recent activities by—and ensuing scandals of—the National Security Agency here in the United States have prompted us to ponder the architecture of surveillance before. Unsurprisingly, the buildings that house our secrets are almost defiantly unremarkable: not striking or adventurous enough to command attention, but not so hideous as to stick out in the landscape either. In other words, they are ideal places for such furtive activities as gathering our data, reading our emails, and listening to our phone calls.
To illustrate the banality of spy architecture, the street artist SpY, dubbed the "Spanish Banksy," has installed 150 (fake) surveillance cameras on a nondescript three-story concrete building in Madrid. The art piece, called CAMERAS, is partly a reaction to the conservative Spanish government, which has collaborated with the NSA, sharing millions of phone calls with the American agency. But it also seems an indictment of the numbing effect of safe, bland design.
”My idea is to generate a debate about excessive surveillance to which we are subjected,” he told the website ANIMAL. ”Now in Spain ... there are new laws against the rights of expression.”
You can find more photos of the installation at SpY's website.
Photos: SpY [ANIMAL]