Matthias Planitzer

Black obs

"black obs", 2017
continuous CCTV live stream, surveillance monitor, microcontroller
"Black obs (Now observing Zelenchuskaya observatory in Moscow, Russia.)", 2017
automatically generated digital images
"Black obs (Now observing Stars and Stripes in Rochester, NY, USA.)", 2017
automatically generated digital images
"Black obs (Now observing a port in Nuuk, Greenland.)", 2017
automatically generated digital images

When the Stasi archives were seized, it became apparent that the East German intelligence had not only pointed their cameras at sometimes the most mundane targets, but that they also kept observing citizens during the night time, gathering countless video tapes of pure blackness. The all-seeing eye, suddenly blind, yet desperate to find any trace of suspicious behaviour. Without anything to see, the filmmaker is left to argue about the imperative on work solely on speculative grounds. A light might go on in somebody’s window or a car’s headlights might illuminate the street for a moment, uncovering incriminating events.

“Black obs” gathers live footage from covert security cameras from all over the world. Midnight by midnight, hour by hour, the bot observes sensitive targets such as power plants, laboratories or factories, but also quite ordinary targets such as the concrete jungle in Russian suburbia, Japanese alleyways or the Pacific Ocean. Serving its twitter account @_blackobs, the bot captures all the same darkness and grain, where only a faint light or the camera’s OSD might hint at what the bot claims is to be seen, but shielded from view.