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Bruce Nauman «Video Surveillance Piece»
Bruce Nauman, «Video Surveillance Piece» Public Room, Private Room, 1969 – 1970

 Bruce Nauman
«Video Surveillance Piece: Public Room, Private Room»

You first experience the installation «Video Surveillance Piece: Public Room, Private Room» by entering a small room. In one corner, there is a monitor placed at floor level. It screens a camera pan of the room. Positioned on the ceiling a camera diagonally opposite films the situation. When attempting to see yourself on the monitor, you soon discover you only appear via another monitor. You see yourself in a monitor which features another monitor image – namely the movements in the room you are in. At this point things start to grate with customary perception for the experimentation with simultaneous transmission evolves into active observation and being under surveillance.

When you walk around the outside of the installation you soon find that it is twice the size of the room you first entered. Typically, Nauman’s title provides a solution to this riddle. The video surveillance occurs in two rooms: a public and a private one. The rooms are adjoining and of equal size. Indeed, the private room is so private it lacks access. Or so it would seem: since this room is also monitored by identical surveillance equipment, its events are likewise transmitted to the outside world.

(excerpts from Dörte Zbikowski, «Bruce Nauman», in: Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frozne, Peter Weibel (eds), CTRL[SPACE]. Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, The MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.), London, 2001, p. 66.)