20 March 2017

Art surveillance

"Hope you enjoyed Hockney" said the email from Tate, sent 24 hours after I visited the exhibition. And that alienated me, to the point of wanting to cancel my new membership - which is probably over-reaction.

Of course the gallery is keeping track of visitors when it scans the barcode on the card as you show it to enter the exhibition. So why shouldn't it "add value" and/or "niche market" by telling individual visitors that they can find further info about the exhibition/artist on p44 of their magazine?

Because some of us still want to think - or I do, however mistakenly - that barcode-scanning surveillance is about getting attendance statistics, rather than getting data on individuals. Anyone under 35 will tell you that this is foolish misconception, "no point in worrying about it". But I wonder who will eventually see such individualised data, and to what purpose.

We've had a precedent for this in the matter of library books, way back when. Librarians refused to reveal who had borrowed certain books, and good for them. Machines won't have such scruples, and I'd rather that the people who program those machines and collect the data observe the same principles.

Is contacting me about my actions infringing my privacy or civil liberties? I don't know ... but it feels like the thin, sharp, end of the wedge.


patty a. said...

I agree! It seems like the world thinks it is ok to use your information anyway they choose. That is why I avoid as much as possible giving out my information, but then I think I am fooling myself too. The government is the worse.

Olga Norris said...

Agreement from me too. I also was probably disproportionately peeved when I received a similar email after visiting the Paul Nash exhibition. I wish that there could be a membership with no strings option, so that I would not receive any jolly or 'informative' emails - and as for the gathering of info., ... George Orwell was so prescient!

M said...

Privacy is being stripped away from us at an astonishing rate and young people think we are weird to object to it. Often their parents have shared so many details about them on social media that continuing themselves as they get older is something they don't think twice about. I read a shocking news item yesterday on the Telegraph's website about a totally bizarre invasion of privacy through a sex toy that could be used via a smart phone app that automatically collected all sorts of data about personal usage and uploaded that along with the customer's email address to a server in Canda! It went to court when discovered. If it had been April 1st I would've just thought it was a tasteless April Fool's story it was so bizarre!