According to ancient Greek myth, Argus Panoptes was a giant with 100 eyes who served as an eternal watchman, both for - and against - the gods. By embedding an array of camera "eyes" into a full body suit of tactical armor, the Argus exo-suit creates a "force field of accountability" around the bodies of those targeted. The Argus Exo-Suit is a futuristic superhero outfit to be worn by citizen activists and those who feel in danger of state violence. Technologically, the suit is a head-to-toe mobile counter-surveillance device embedded with illuminated, micro-computer controlled cameras (i.e. its' eyes) that allows the wearer, and its' audience of remote viewers, to monitor and record police behavior. However, the suit also functions on the mythological level, as the design brings together many resonant cultural references, from pop-culture characters like Tron or Iron Man, to Video Games and Afro futurism. Together, it creates an inspiring, actually-existing superhero character to inspire citizens who seek to uphold community safety and our democratic values as a society.
The video installation takes place across multiple screens and surfaces, to create a feeling of multiple voices in conversation with each other. Part documentary, part science fiction, the story is told in 6 chapters, and features the voices of family members of victims of police violence, police officers willing to speak candidly about their experiences, and grassroots activists. In emotionally resonant and deeply personal conversations, they discuss their stories, the impacts of systemic racism on society, the pervasive surveillance of low income communities of color, and the profound change brought about by citizen videographers who are now 'watching back' in response. The entire story is told through the eyes of a silent narrator: The Argus Operating System, and animated, Graphic User iInterface (GUI) that is half machine, half mythological being, who uses motion graphics to analyze the the issue from a systemic level, and present its' conclusions about what we must do in response.
In an era where police violence is being increasingly understood as a systemic problem tied to deeper issues of Structural Racism and Economic Inequality, police body cameras are being proposed as the solution. We seek to generate a more expansive, systemic conversation to this critical debate. The Argus video installations are accompanied by educational materials and public programs to further the content every stop of the way.