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Reckless Eyes
2002-2003

 

Reckless Eyes used a combination of mobile wireless networks, handheld computers, video streaming, and 2.4Ghz video to allow people to see themselves through other's eyes and the eyes of their environment. The project focused on how people gaze and are gazed upon in an urban environment. Unfortunately, the technologies used in the project proved very unstable. Development took far longer than expected and ate a great deal of money and energy. Several weeks of tests culminated in a working experiment in early April, but during the final presentation on April 7th, two cameras died and the entire network collapsed. However, when the system worked, it generated interesting and unexpected results. The wireless cameras received visually interesting interference from the environment, and the buffering from the streams created lags allowing participants to be in the same location seeing each other's gaze offset in time.

 

"Reckless Eyeballing" is a concept familiar to most Americans. It is most infamous for its use by the pre-civil rights courts to punish and imprison black men for looking at white women. However, it is still used for any form aggressive or inappropriate gaze, especially when a person without power dares to look a person with power directly in the eye. American prisoners are frequently thrown into solitary confinement for staring their guards in the eye, and prostitutes are in danger any time they look a pimp in the eye. The concept of gaze has taken a radical shift over the past 50 years. With the advent of the CCD, surveillance cameras have spread numerous gazes across our cityscapes. The gaze of technology is different than the gaze of biology. The technical gaze can hold, record, and re-present the images before it. Most importantly, the technical gaze can be shared - either through re-presentation of the recorded images, or through live transmission.


Reckless Eyes allows people to view through each other's eyes. It specifically seeks to show people themselves as viewed by others. It looks at manners in which concepts of sight and gaze are altered when they are technically enhanced, when sight can be passed beyond the individual.