Domestic Wilderness Channel (DWC) is a temporary, site specific installation at Villa Montalvo, Saratoga, Califonia www.villamontalvo.org. DWC takes the sophisticated surveillance technology that pervades urban environments and mainstream culture and transposes it onto an idyllic domestic environment, exposing the natural micro-world that exists in the hidden nooks of our manicured lawns, and drawing attention to modern notions of control in our political, daily, and recreational life.
In this project, Kitchen, a fellow at Montalvo’s Lucas Artists Programs, with special assistance from Olga Reid, set up custom designed recording “gazebos” around her studio in which she placed bait for the micro world (ants, spiders, and other insects), along with cameras to record the activity that ensues once the wildlife converge in these locations. The term gazebo is meant to be read ironically since it is usually used to evoke sites of pastoral relaxation, rather than the surveillance of “gruesome” natural encounters. “Unbeknownst to us,” says Kitchen, “there is a riot of repellent activity that occurs overnight as we sleep, unaware, in our comfortable homes.” Footage taken in the gazebos from 6pm to 6am is automatically transferred to the multi screen Domestic Wildlife Channel and broadcast from 6am to 6pm. In this way the viewer is allowed a voyeuristic view of the night's activities and a “reality tv”style experience of natural world.
In cities around the globe, the type of technology utilized by DWC is used on a larger scale to control traffic, the movement of individuals, and products, and is manipulated to provide entertainment to massive audiences in the form of reality television. By placing surveillance cameras, projection screens, and RIFD tagging equipment in the intimate environment of one’s home, DWC provides “civilian” users with the tools to experience this technology for themselves, bringing to light a world in which they stand amidst but do not normally see, and raising questions about how we manipulate and censor what we allow ourselves to see and experience as “reality” and “truth” in daily life.
Shona Kitchen with Olga Reid.
This project grew not only from Montalvos specific of landscape, but also from Edgetown project and a 3 month research post at the Center for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) in Aarhus, Denmark researching future technologies and their speculative consequences on our every day lives.
Special thanks to: Mary Rubin(City of San Jose Public Art Program), Rijin Sahakian (Montalvo), Matt Black (film editing), Chris Chan(Gazebo fabrication), Edward Rooks + Janice Edgerly-Rooks (Black Widow Painting + entomological advice), Camera 12 Cinemas for downtown exhib space and long-time collaborator Ben Hooker for inspirational support.
In kind sponsorship from: Wilco Imaging, Inc + ELMO (CCD Cameras), Intermec (Radio Frequency Identification), Western Exterminator (Product Literature).
Photographs by Doron Hanoch and Tom Ligamari.