Disrupting the broadcast

Fabian Winkler‘s PI (personal interpreters) is a set of small robotic devices, which deconstruct TV broadcasts’ audio signals. The robots interpret the regular audio signal as control code and translate it into abstract rhythmic sounds.


PIs can be plugged into the sound output of a TV set (via RCA cables). Using suction cups, individual modules can be attached anywhere to the surface of the TV. These modules translate the sound output from TV broadcasts into movements of mechanized parts that scratch, hit and thump on the surface of the TV set using it as a resonant body. The audience still sees the images but hears only the deconstructed sounds created by the robotic modules – vaguely reminding them of the original soundtrack but challenging them to interpret it in new ways.


Check the project at ZeroOne San Jose, this summer.

For an intervention on images, and in a sousveillance/surveillance context this time, Austrian activists Quintessenz created an anonymous surveillance system that uses a face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded (via Wired).

quintzzz.jpgNew Scientist reported today on a video surveillance system that scrambles people’s faces to protect them from unwarranted monitoring. Developed by Swiss company EMITALL Surveillance, the algorithm of the technology singles out any people in a video feed, on the basis of their movement, and disguises them digitally while leaving the rest of the scene intact (Videos 1, 2 and 3). Only those in possession of the encryption key can unlock the scrambled regions and identify the people shown on-screen.


The system can even use different encryption keys to scramble the identity of particular people under surveillance, says Touradj Ebrahimi, founder of EMITALL Surveillance (thanks Emily!)

More broadcast disruption
: SVEN – Surveillance Video Entertainment Network, a real-time video performance system that detects when people look like rock stars instead of criminals. Once a potential rock star is detected, music video effects are triggered so the surveillance stars get a treatment worthy of Cecil B himself; TV Predator, a picture frame that attacks the tv and prevent it from working properly; OiTV, a misbehaving attention-seeking TV.