What if during your darkest moments, you knew your mom was watching? Would you steal? Experiment with drugs? Hit an alleged criminal a few extra times with a police baton?
Antenna–a project by the Russian artist Dmitry Morozov–links the evils of police brutality with the ethical accountability of mom’s watchful eye. It’s a police baton fitted with a vibration sensor and a cellphone radio. So when the baton strikes a surface–or a person–it automatically sends a text:
“MOM, I HIT A MAN!!”
“There’s too much cruelty of police everywhere–in USA, Russia, Turkey–we see it in media almost every day,” Morozov writes over email. “But I’m an artist, not an activist, so there are not so many ways that I can stop it physically. I wanted to use my electronics skills to make a work that will be serious and fun in the same time.”
Morozov’s invention has the tone of a dark comedy, and it might be laughable, were its themes not so on-trend. In fact, police forces across the US are adopting a method of self-reporting through wearable cameras that document their encounters with the public. The result is one of a strange but potentially effective surveillance state, in which, theoretically, we lose the current he-said-she-said debate over police brutality because all moments between citizens and authorities are recorded, and police clean up their behavior for it.
Of course, Antenna takes the idea of police surveillance and ups the ante by questioning the general use of violence. In texting one’s mother, the baton doesn’t discriminate between “justified” force and “unjustified” force; It doesn’t ask the user, “in this situation, does policy dictate that I can use force?” as a wearable camera might. Rather, it questions if there’s really any situation where you should swing a weapon at someone’s face.
And while, of course there may be an occasional, unavoidable need for authoritative violence, no one wants to explain that to their mother.
[via Prosthetic Knowledge]