Project DescriptionAGENCY transformed a public park into a launching pad for private celebrities. The temporary installation, titled SELFIE WALL, provided an optimal environment for self-portraiture, while highlighting contemporary concerns with online over-sharing and data privacy. The project is located in the binational metropolitan region of El Paso / Ciudad Juárez, a border community where data security is a daily concern.
SELFIE WALL creates a range of lighting conditions day and night, offering a dynamic and interactive space for self-photography. The wall was built from 162 custom-fabricated units, CNC-milled from composite aluminum panel, and folded to shape different apertures for bouncing, scattering, and collecting light. The shape of the modules transforms from a structural cross-shape to a more open ‘umbrella’, providing consistent structural rigidity throughout the wall surface while creating a range of lighting options. These mass-customized variations evoke, replicate, and evolve lighting solutions across a variety of industries, simultaneously signaling ‘barn doors’ on stage lighting, photo umbrellas used in portrait photography and film, and vanity fixtures.
A grid of LED lights was inset to provide zones of different color temperatures at night. A range of warm color temperatures, flattering to skin tones lines the inner surface of the space, while a range of cool whites provides a more accurate color rendering on the outer surface.
Through an extended online and on-site digital presence, the installation draws attention to the potentials and pitfalls of the vast range of metadata extracted from a still-burgeoning global selfie culture. While seemingly innocent personal records of private moments, selfies are in fact a new resource for third-party datacrunchers. Facial and pattern recognition software is able to extract identity and mood, while metadata embedded in the photo file, social network post protocols, mobile device settings, and user-generated content suggests each selfie leaves a significant ‘digital footprint’ which jeopardizes individual data privacy. As a follow-up to the installation, metadata from dozens of SELFIE WALL selfies uploaded to Twitter and Instagram with an event-specific hashtag are now being analyzed.
The project is part of an annual event, featuring international artists, sponsored by the City of El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD).