Thursday, November 29, 2007

SVEN: Surveillance Video Entertainment Network

SVEN CV - the computer vision software used for SVEN (Surveillance Video
Entertainment Network
) - is now available to the public. The features and interface were designed specifically for the SVEN project, so the interface isn't what you might expect from user-friendly, general purpose software. However, we hope it can be useful for other public space projects, as it is specifically designed to track people in uncontrolled settings, as opposed to a gallery or stage where lighting, background, clothing, etc., can be controlled.

SVEN is a piece of tactical software art. Tactical software art comes out of traditions of tactical media and software art. It’s a logical mix: tactical media is a response to the way mainstream media influences culture; software art is a response to the ways mainstream software influences culture.

Tactical media often involves a combination of digital actions and “meatspace” – or street - actions. In SVEN, these are one and the same - digital actions that take place on the street (just off the curb in this case).

Surveillance is already scary.

Sure, surveillance is scary - but you’ve probably heard that before. We’re being watched all the time, and we don’t know by whom, or what they’re doing with the images and other data they’re gathering. Scared? You bet - there’s a bogeyman under the bed, so we’d better not look. But remember, we’re supposed to be scared – people are trying to scare us. Foucault pointed out that not knowing when the bogeyman is watching you can scare you into changing your behavior. But not knowing how the bogeyman is watching you can scare you too. SVEN’s purpose is not to point out that surveillance is scary. People are scared enough as it is.

Software shouldn’t be scary.

From the SVEN CV website.

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