Lionell Guzman
art projects


“Biometric Exit”
@ Midpunkt Gallery, Iceland

September 5th, 2019

BIOMETRIC EXIT is a solo exhibition by Montréal and New York based artist duo Jake Laffoley and Lionell Guzman. Their installation at MIDPUNKT explores the normalisation of monitoring and surveillance in all domains of public and private life. Since the 90s CCTV cameras have been added in urban areas for the state purposes of “security”, but in fact are often used to create networks of hyper-surveillance and consumer formation. In a moment when the total number of people on earth is increasing at an unprecedented rate, surveillance is one of the few phenomena which is growing faster: in China there are currently 170 million cameras and it is projected by 2021 there will be 570 million.

BIOMETRIC EXIT explores the phenomenon of Autonomous Facial Recognition (AFR) which is controversially used as an algorithmic weapon. It has been well acknowledged that AFR technology’s current limitations have shown that the systems are inaccurate in identifying racial minorities, women, and transgender people. AFR  is deployed on subjects who do not have the choice to opt out, while their biometrics are stored in private databases without consent. The American scholar Shoshana Zuboff has stated that surveillance capitalists simply declared our private experience to be theirs, and translated it into data for their private ownership and their proprietary knowledge. Often used in policing, the technology disproportionately harms people already subject to profiling.

The installation BIOMETRIC EXIT is comprised of a hacked, unreliable Computer Vision (CV) algorithm that creates real-time facial recognition, tracking attendees in the gallery, reading expressions and falsely noting predictive behaviours. A live database will record all attendees of the exhibition and upload it to a website that forms an online surveillance ecosystem. As a form of learning, how to disrupt, reject, and confuse the algorithm BIOMETRIC EXIT functions as a mitigated version of the CV apparatus. MIDPUNKT will provide facial camouflage, laser pens and face paints for those attempting to view the exhibition incognito.

For the opening there will be a satirical performance live streamed for the duration of the opening, whereby we get the inverse experience of surveying into the bureau of a surveillance moderator played by Lionell Guzman.

Curated: by Snæbjörn Brynjarsson and Ragnheiður Sigurðardóttir Bjarnarson
Code: Manjit Bedi, Minh Duc Nguyen
Assistance: Rachel Dare and Minh Duc Nguyen
Supported by: the City of Kópavogur