Simon Faithfull, Limbo (2011)

In April this year the story broke that now ubiquitous iPhones and 3G iPads are recording details of everywhere their owners go, storing locations and timestamps on a secret file.

This may not be a conspiracy, but it would seem to be one more step towards a transparent world in which privacy belongs to a halcyon past before surveillance technology and the world wide web.

But Simon Faithfull’s 10-year long project is located squarely where satellite positioning meets the mobile internet. Above you can see a rare example of a drawing with a geotag (bottom left).

That’s what you might expect from a photo. And imaging technology also has a role to play in the laying bare of our lives. 1.85m CCTV cameras in Britain. Nearly 100 billion photos on Facebook.

Considered together with Google Earth and Street View, this does appear to be a mad accumulation of empirical data. But the science of omniscience does have one major blindspot: subjectivity.

Faithfull calls web-based artwork “an expanding atlas of subjectivity.” Unlike previous atlases, this one will therefore be infinite as no two viewpoints can really be the same.

Nor can they be exhausted. The artist has stuck with the drawing software of an early Palm Pilot. It leaves wide empty spaces. It falls so far short of realism as to leave plenty to the imagination.

And here is a perfect vessel for dreaming. Faithfull has just completed a four day residency on this cross channel ferry, giving it a mystique which even a sketchbook may have failed to.

If you have an iPhone you can download a Limbo app and get fresh drawings from anywhere in the world. These too are secret files, clear if you experience the world, but invisible to your digital device.

Limbo is the second 2011 web commission from Film and Video Umbrella. Check out some more of the drawings and get the app on the project website.

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