[ISEA2002] Artist Statement: Nancy Nisbet – Pop! Goes the Weasel

Artist Statement

From dosed circuit TV and video monitoring, email snooping software such as Carnivore, tracking through credit card usage and location mapping via GPS enabled cell phones; surveillance is omnipresent. It may not be the act of surveillance but rather the collection, storage and use of our ‘data identities’ in a centralized database that presents the greatest threat. Who will have access to the database, how will the data be used, how will people be protected from data profiling and marginalization? “Pop! Goes the Weasel” is an interactive installation using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to track visitors/participants as they move through the installation. Identities are blurred as RFID tags are shared. The significance of the collected data is shifted as visitors repeatedly alter the database. A video projection containing the implantation of an RFID microchip into the artist’s hand and a visible real-time reflection of visitors being tracked accentuates uneasiness. This installation aims to remind participants of the ubiquity of surveillance structures and to encourage visceral responses to potential future modes of surveillance. Visitors are given the opportunity to practice intervention in, and subversion and avoidance of RFID surveillance as possible forms of resistance.

  • Nancy Nisbet is a Canadian new media artist. She received a Master of Fine Arts from The California Institute of the Arts and has degrees in Genetics and Education from the University of Alberta. She teaches Digital Arts in the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Theory at the University of British Columbia. Her artistic and academic practice concerns human relationships with technology and human relationships mediated by technology. Through her art she seeks to investigate influences of technology on shifting senses of self and understandings of identity(ies).