Surveillance: Hansel and Gretel
In this age, the surveillance topic has become popular because of both abundant filmic works and reveal of several secret but existed surveillance program. In economic sector, the data maybe replace the petroleum and become the new oil. Even in current epidemic situation due to COVID-19, surveillance approaches on biometric data has actually assisted with management. All these occurring situation without exemption reminds us of surveillance age’s coming. Therefore, our thesis will choose surveillance as broad topic.
This thesis seeks to explore the potential typology for surveillance architecture through one specific commissions from Google of a data farm. Through exploring the possible typology, this thesis also aims to emphasis data as an essential factor in architectural design. Meanwhile, this thesis attempt to retrospect/redefine the basic concept of architecture, publicness in particular. To achieve these objectives, on the one hand, the research process will be supported by abundant literature review not only in architecture fields but other relevant aspects including society, economy, and technology. On the other hand, a new Data Impact Assessment (DIA) inspired by Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is introduced as trigger. This new DIA plays as methodology and foundation to explore architectural toolbox and strategy.
We use “Surveillance: Hansel and Gretel” as the topic of our story. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is a German fairy tale that a young brother and sister are abandoned in the forest, where they fall into the hands of a cannibalistic witch living in a house made of gingerbread. The witch intends to eat them, but the girl outwits the villain and kills her. The two children then escape and return home. This story actually adapts well to this surveillance age. The whole current surveillance system around the world is the exact modern ‘ginger bread’ for public, which baits and entices people into its control. On the one hand, people are aware of the risk of data leaking. On the other hand, majority of people possess few self-controls leaving the convenient devices and facilities such as intelligent furniture and smartphone. The whole fairy tale then becomes an ideal allegory for current society. We may all indulge in benefits of surveillance until not able to escape from it.
Under this topic, our thesis is researching the roles of architecture in this surveillance situation. Whether the architecture become ‘ginger bread’ in the fairy tale, helping the ‘Big Brother’ to maximum data collection or the other path, offering a data safe space where the architecture serves as a guardian? In our data farm, we have high DIA program area and low DIA Faraday Cage space. In program area, people behavior will be surveilled, circulation was more controlled, but actually safe. On the other hand, there are no surveillance in Faraday cage, people behavior and circulation will be free, but it’s dangerous as any other public dangerous in the city. By this two-opposite space, we explore what’s the real public and privacy and how architecture could be in this surveillance capitalism age.
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