msdm a nomadic house-studio-gallery for photographic art and curatorial research, an expanded practice of the artist's book, photobook publishing and peer-to-peer collaboration created by contemporary artist paula roush

The Spychip Under Your Skin:
RFID and the Tagged exhibition
Armin Medosch reflects on arphield recordings
Space Media Arts, October 2006
[see essay here]


Other artists have articulated a critique of the one-dimensionality of the technocratic society and have warned about Orwellian sides of the technology. The encroachment of technology into every aspect of our lives does not only raise luddite rage and romanticised resistance to modernity, but also the inside critique of the mole: the parasitic and opportunistic exploitation of holes in the system. 

A good example for a parasitic and highly ironic strategy was Heath Bunting’s project Vunerability where he used electronic tags to create false alarms on entering a store, not when leaving it. cf 1996 - 2006 [online]  An echo of this type of work can be found in Paula Roush’s project for the Tagged exhibition, Arphield Recordings, where she asks people to play back the beep from Oyster Card-reading machines on London tube stations.

Arphield Recordings by paula roush is a reminder that sound art projects have a very positive track record in often being the first to realize the suppressed social imaginary of new technologies. Asking people to come to a certain tube station at a certain time and scanning their Oyster cards for 30 seconds each as well as playing back recorded Oyster card beeps, she aims at creating an ‘endless symphony of sound surveillance and compliance’.

roush refers to the practice of ‘sousveillance and a more general understanding of the arphid surveillance/ equiveillance of public space and transport.’ To explain what she means by sousveillance she refers to the work of Steve Mann who has been walking around wearing a live CCTV camera for years. In her opinion ‘the emerging field of personal sousveillance – the capture, processing, storage, retrieval, and transmission of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity’ has been too strongly focused on the visual. At the Tagged exhibition she will present arphield sound recordings and invite people to join her for a performance at a nearby tube station, probably Bethnal Green tube.

Having performed the project already a few times, roush discovered that ‘people were already engaging in impromptu sound performances. My documentation led me to discern varied patterns and even participatory scores, with mass arphid soundscapes punctuated by silences, glitches and cracks in the system, all warped up in a circadian rhythm of work-rush hours’.

(The project remains open to contributions for people to download and upload their own Arphield Recordings by opening an account at the website.)


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