In a simple and elegant way, the piece by artist duo Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva Binoculars to… from combined two urban viewing cultures: those of tourism and surveillance.
For the project, the artists created a custom-made “tourist binocular” which opened a view to another city, where the viewer’s gaze was simultaneously projected.
Binoculars to… from is an installation, which is able to connect to a number of cities in an extraordinary way. When you look through the binoculars, instead of seeing the scene physically in front of you, you are transported to a different site. This opening of a real-time window into another location is not unidirectional: when looking into the binoculars, your eye is captured and shown on an urban screen at the observed place. Hence, the inhabitants of the other, connected city will see the huge-scale, searching eye looking at them.
The project playfully connects to other cities, while addressing issues of extended surveillance. Inspired by ideas of the French anthropologist Marc Augé, the project creates an excess of time and space, allowing one to travel to a totally different location and be present there in a matter of milliseconds, while remaining in one's physical location.
During Media Facades Festival 2013, the project was installed as an urban viewing platform at the busy intersection of Kurvi, Kallio district, from where gazes were exchanged between Helsinki and Liverpool.
The network of gazes expanded on September 6-7, when Binoculars were installed in several Connecting Cities venues across Europe. Altogether the project was presented in 9 cities.