Stanza,systems of surveillance

The Agency At The End Of Civilisation. By Stanza

An installation manipulating data and systems of surveillance into more systems of control while at the same time merging fictionalized or false narratives which have been threaded into the installation by merging the various data sets.

The artwork “The Agency At The End Of Civilisation” is a real time interpretation of the data of the Internet of Cars project using millions of data sets from the UK car number plate recognition system which are aligned with real time images from one hundred CCTV cameras in the region of South of England. The installation presents all this as a spatialised audio experience of spoken texts and generative visuals using custom mad software.
The audience engages with the work as observer (of the surveillance and recorded space) looking at 24 screens, a dozen speakers, and a labyrinth of CCTV cameras built as an art installation presented on a plinth.

The artwork incorporates notions of future predictive software while at the same time exploring time from multiple perspectives in what Stanza calls a "Parallel Reality". The custom made software system uses and accesses real time transport data gathered through the transport systems around the South Coast Of England. Stanza builds a cacophony of narratives of mass information which create an overseeing system of control in public space. Custom made software interrogates the information flow in real time and re-purposes it tell us a new and different story. A new narrative is created by Stanza with a custom made future predicative software that runs in parallel to traffic data and Stanza imposes his systems to create a different series of events that come into play. The control system is under more control and re-manipulated to re/direct attention wherever the system wants.

AUDIO: Your listen to a spatialised audio on speakers in the installation. The sound is translated from a database of information tracking number plates and locations and sending them back to the UK number plate centre. This data has been merged with my set of new narratives inside the database. This new narrative is what you listen to.

VISUAL: All the screens present live real time images from surveillance cameras. You can imagine that inside these cars you can se your friends and family. The visual act to places the viewer not only in the real tome but in the present. These actions are happening as you see them.

We live in a ever changing real time environment in which the micro and macro events can can captured using new technologies and this data can be harvested for a variety of purposes from surveillance to environmental monitoring.

Stanza uses multiple new technologies to create distances between real time multi point perspectives that emphasis a new visual space. The purpose of this is to communicate feelings and emotions that we encounter daily which impact on our lives and which are outside our control. Small units of change become huge incidents of flowing swarming information that can be woven to extract new “meaning” about the world which both has economic and cultural value. The world we live in is connected up using millions of devices and in six years time there will be over 20 billions connected devices that represents the internet of things.


The Agency At The End Of Civilization from Stanza on Vimeo.


Winchester Science Centre. UK .
New Media Gallery, Anvil Centre Canada. UK .


What I am doing, which is sort of new ground, is that I’m hacking access to a network and re-appropriating the data and information, and I am re-contextualizing it to give it a wider meaning. I want to show that you can do something positive with this data. And as I say data is the medium of the age.”

"From Big Brother to the Mother of Big Brother."

Thanks to Helen Sloan of Scan and The Internet of Cars project and Arts Council England.


"Rich work that contributed to the shows and symposium. Stanza's intervention into the Internet of Cars show / project was valuable on a number of levels. Firstly it is important to understand where it appeared. The installation took an important place at the Winchester Science Centre and attracted a great deal of attention between the many science and interactive exhibits that engaged kids and parents. Whilst many exhibits are interactive on a physical and intellectual level, Stanza's work offered a cultural and critical dimension that recast the city and it's many 'smart' technologies. Secondly this thought provoking intervention asked a community that we're playing with technology to think about their complicity and role within it. Sometime technology doesn't always offer the solution out of a problem and looking down, across or seeing yourself in the installation evoked interesting questions of the viewer"

Professor Chris Speed


systems of surveillance. Stanza


Philosophical position.

Professor Charlie Gere

"Stanza’s art is consonant with a new philosophical position, or rather set of positions, that has recently emerged, that seeks to develop just such a complex understanding. There are a number of names associated with this, including Speculative Realism, Object-Oriented Ontology, and the New Materialism. Among its major figures are Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, Jane Bennett, Vickie Kirby, and Timothy Morton, though it must be said that there are many others also working in the same are, and also that this is not to ascribe any overly unified character or set of beliefs to these thinkers. Nevertheless they offer a new way of thinking about the world, one that does not reduce it to what is available to human consciousness.

Art does not, indeed cannot tell us about things in the way that science or philosophy does, but it can tell us something about how we can come to know and understand the world into which we are flung. To put it another way it offers us an insight into the act of knowing and the way that that knowing is structured and determined. Works of art set us up us as observers of different sorts, according to the dominant epistemologies of the context in which they are made. Thus to look at a work of art made in a context different to that in which we find ourselves is to be given a potential insight, however partial, into a different way of thinking about and representing the world

Stanza’s work not only performs the way in which non-human actants now appear to talk to each other, especially in relation to the so-called ‘internet of things’, but moreover how these conversations take place in literal black boxes, in other words the computers and networks whose operation is both largely hidden from us, and at the same time vital for our everyday existence. But this must not be seen merely as a comment on network technologies. Rather it should be understood as reflecting a more complex and widespread aspect of our existence, in short the degree to which we can now recognize that everything can and does communicate everything else. Much of this communication is not easily available to human subjects. Thus the opacity of Stanza’s and other new media work can be understood as the most profound artistic response to both our current mediated condition and to the new ontologies and philosophies it has engendered."

Professor Graham Harman

"The London-based artist Stanza has been exhibiting for over three decades, and has been drawn consistently to themes of surveillance technologies, as in the “panopticon” addressed by Michel Foucault but later treated more skeptically by Bruno Latour and Emilie Hermant.
The theme of surveillance has been a central concern in the social sciences in recent decades. Much of the credit for this obviously must go to Foucault, due to his well- known passages in Discipline and Punish on Jeremy Bentham’s “Panopticon,” an institution whose inhabitants (prisoners, students, patients, or otherwise) might be watched at any moment from a central observation point. As Foucault puts it: “The Panopticon is a marvelous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power.”

Another of Stanza’s themes is multi-point perspectives, though rather than give this topic the expected relativist spin, he stresses the notion that the varying perspectives amount to parallel realities thereby suggesting that these realities are partly cut off from one another for the same reason that Euclidean parallel lines never make contact."

Stanza, ,  CCTV artwork

Stanza, ,
Stanza, ,  CCTV artwork
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Stanza, ,
Stanza, ,
Stanza, , CCTV artwork


A custom api generates the data. Data gathered includes number of cameras in each of the locations which is used to simulate a fictional environment using the camera network along the A354 route and send that will represent certain data including that generated from the APNR. Other fields include Make, Model, Colour, Date etc


YT61YUY ,A4.1.WB.1,85,2012/07/23 14:16:15
RE10FWX ,A3.1.SB.1,92,2012/07/23 14:15:12
FJ54MYL ,A10.1.SB.1,92,2012/07/23 14:15:13
WP09XZD ,A4.1.WB.1,88,2012/07/23 14:17:26
V869DJT ,A2.1.IB.1,91,2012/07/23 14:15:43
Y252EAF ,A3.1.SB.1,91,2012/07/23 14:19:55
KX59EVB ,A1.2.SB.1,93,2012/07/23 14:16:16
HG06UXF ,A1.2.NB.1,90,2012/07/23 14:17:33
T763AFX ,A7.1.NB.1,92,2012/07/23 14:16:25
X468VOO ,A7.1.NB.1,89,2012/07/23 14:18:38
HG06NJU ,A14.1.BI.1,96,2012/07/23 14:17:24

if speed >= 80:
    print 'License and registration please'
    if mood == 'terrible' or speed >= 100:
      print 'You have the right to remain silent.'
    elif mood == 'bad' or speed >= 90:
      print "I'm going to have to write you a ticket."
      print "Let's try to keep it under 80 ok?"

Screen shot of terminal window
 , Stanza,

Keywords: Online, netart, artwork, system, generative,surveillance, privacy, control.