Random Aggregates

Simon Lewandowski

Random Aggregates continue's my ongoing investigation into surveillance, overheard conversations and the behavioural effects of the panopticon. Surveillance and control structures are ubiquitous, CCTV cameras in petrol stations, corner shops, stations and cafés, metal detectors in schools and openly armed transport police rub shoulders with latte shoppers. For our own peace of mind they become invisible, commonplace, overlooked and ignored, all in the name of "security".

Random Aggregates is a work in three parts; firstly, physical signs located at the back and front entrances of the mining building will give clear warnings:

As part of the ongoing artwork "Random Aggregates" by Ben Woodeson public areas of this building have been fitted with microphones, please be aware that your ongoing conversations may be overheard on the headphones throughout the building and via the web site:


Secondly, an extensive network of miniature microphones will be mounted in agreed public areas of the building; these will be connected to eight sets of headphones mounted at specific vantage points. The headphones will be positioned so that the wearer has an overview of the nearby corridors or stairs. All the microphones will be connected to one audio feed, that is to say the headphones will play everything at once, live, unfiltered and unedited, a soundscape wall of noise; individual voices will be audible, but conversations by and large will not. It should however be noted that conversation volume levels do of course rise and fall and it is intended that conversations will sporadically come through "in clear".

Thirdly, a web site www.randomaggregates.com will provide live mp3 streams of the babble as it is simultaneously fed to the headphones. The web site will be an intrinsic part of the piece as well as a promotional vehicle for the project as a whole.

Random Aggregates will be a sculptural work based on concepts of personal privacy, gossip, overheard information, communication structures and a three-month experimental performance as the building's users react to, negotiate with, live with and ultimately ignore the existence of the microphones.

Ben Woodeson's Parameters

CCTV, voice activated transmitters, bugs, surveillance, viral immunisation, conservation of energy, form following function, information systems, information delivery, subversion, reinvention, wire as vehicle, manifestation and transference of energy, radio, sound, redesigning for inefficiency, drawing, energy fields, maximum effort for minimal achievement, magnets, Morse code, circuits, frameworks, rules, laws, rights, barriers, boundaries, news, politics, control, interaction, methods of exchange and almost empty galleries.