Adam Harvey is a conceptual artist and researcher based in Berlin. Over the past decade, Harvey has developed a number of designs in response to the rise of the surveillance state and the growing need for individuals to exert more control over their privacy. One of Harvey’s earliest designs addressing this issue was an anti-paparazzi device called Camoflash; a handbag designed to conceal users from flash photography. Camoflash worked by activating a bank of LEDs when a photographer’s flash was detected, over exposing their light sensor and ruining their photo (Harvey 2009). In addition to this, Harvey has also developed a type of camouflage to thwart facial recognition technology. Reminiscent of something David Bowie would wear, CV Dazzle is a system of hair and makeup alterations designed to modify the features targeted by facial detection software. By keeping users below the threshold of detection, CV Dazzle protects users from subsequent facial recognition programs that are often carried out in conjunction with facial detection (Harvey 2010).
However, Stealth Wear is perhaps Harvey’s most successful project to date. Stealth Wear is a fashion line designed to conceal the wearer from long wave infrared cameras, such as those typically found on surveillance drones (Harvey 2013). This concealment is achieved through the use of a silver-plated synthetic fabric that disperses the user’s body heat, making them all but invisible to aerial surveillance. Interestingly, the fashion line draws inspiration from traditional Islamic dress which was thought to provide a separation between man and God (Harvey 2013). In this instance, Harvey has reimagined the burqa and hijab as garments that provide a barrier between man and drone. Like many of Harvey’s projects Stealth Wear exploits a vulnerability within surveillance programs and makes it accessible through the vehicle of fashion (Maly 2013). Harvey’s specific focus on fashion is interesting as it has historically been seen as a non-conformist art form. In many ways this makes fashion the antithesis of mass surveillance which promotes conformity.
Harvey, A. 2010, Camouflage from computer vision, viewed 21 August, <https://ahprojects.com/projects/cv-dazzle/>.
Harvey, A. 2009, LED anti-paparazzi device, viewed 21 August, <https://ahprojects.com/projects/camoflash/>.
Harvey, A. 2013, Stealth wear ‘anti-drone’ fashion, viewed 21 August, <https://ahprojects.com/projects/stealth-wear/>.
Maly, T. 2013, Anti drone camouflage: What to wear in total surveillance, WIRED, viewed 21 August 2016, <https://www.wired.com/2013/01/anti-drone-camouflage-apparel/>.