Inquisitive Fabric: Fashioning a Response to the Ever-Present Gaze of the Smart City

Pragati Singh, Georgia Institute of Technology

New Orleans 2019: Mapping / monitoring

One of the central tenets of smart city technologies is the integration of IoT sensors that facilitate non-stop data gathering, keeping an ever-present gaze on to the city. From traffic control, garbage bins, to pollution and gunshot detectors, the city is turned into always sensing and watching megastructure. As the city expands its ever-present gaze on every movement, it becomes more and more difficult for the average citizen to know the location and status of these sensors, what data is being collected, where it is stored, how long it is stored and for what purposes. The invisible gaze of these IoT sensors turns people into a data point incapable of sensing, a number encoding movements, colour, identity, location, time etc.

This installation uses aesthetics of fashion as a critical mode of inquiry into the emergent digital infrastructure while serving as a point of reflection and conversation around issues of surveillance, control, and citizenship. More specifically, we present an interactive garment that uses GPS technology to light up with greater intensity where there is a greater presence of sensing technologies. Put differently, we will be showcasing a wearable feminist garment which maps all the nearby smart-city cameras and sensors via LED lights. In doing so, it turns the gaze back on to the city and in that process demonstrates the difficulty of detecting and responding to the ever-growing presence of various sensors in the city.