Are we being watched?
Well this year in the Ventura Lambrate District of Milan—we actually are. This detour into technology-derived anxiety is the result of the exhibition of Koncern, a Prague-based studio founded by the design pair Jirí Pribyl and Martin Imrich. In their show aptly titled "Embracing Paranoia" the studio explores the uneasiness we inherently feel with technology. Guests of the exhibit are invited in to observe the objects which are in turn—observing them.
"We are monitored everywhere. They watch us on cameras, at tollgates; they eavesdrop on us using our own phones, computers and televisions. The society has accepted this condition where almost everyone knows everything about everyone" - Studio Koncern
Studio Koncern in Ventura Lambrate
Casting the viewers of the Youtube channel as voyeurs looking into the world of the Milan Design Week Guests creates a unique experience both for the watched and the watchers. Exhibitions guests ebb and flow through the Youtube livestream frame, regarding the objects as they would any of the exhibits this week. When guests of the show asked the designers to comment on which of the pieces were representations of surveillance and whether or not any of them had full recording features they were met with a smile and coy response of "some of them may some— some of them may not."
Series of surveillance cameras film visitors to the exhibition.
The collection includes two large chandeliers for recording conversations around the exhibit, a number of wall-mounted surveillance cameras livestreaming to YouTube and a series of tabletop sarcophagi which create a dead zone for wifi and telecommunication when your phone is placed inside.
The Chandeliers are the centerpiece of the Embracing Paranoia show, playing not only on our fears about privacy but also employing traditional Czech glass work and 3D printing to achieve a hybrid aesthetic that lies somewhere between bohemian glass and crystal of the last few centuries and the flying hover cars of Sci-Fi movies.
Embracing Paranoia Chandeliers with embedded microphones.
Scattered around the showroom are a number of futuristic sarcophagi perfectly dimensioned to fit the smart phone the majority of the guests to Milan are using to take photos of the overwhelming number of exhibitions. The boxes are inscribed with the words 'Silence' or 'Methods of Silence'—a clear call to action for visitors to lay their phone to rest in a miniaturized cell service deadzone.
Sarcophagi of telecommunication technology
Additionally, the series is completed with a number of miniature wiretaps placed by the designers around the venues in the Salone del Mobile. The taps can be access through calling the numbers +39 33 49 14 50 97 or +39 33 89 63 59 03, allowing guests to become big brother just for a moment themselves.
Embracing Paranoia is on display until the 19th of April at Minini Gallery at Via Massimiano 25. More Studio Koncern work can be seen on their website.