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Foil surveillance by wearing a mask of this artist's face

Foil surveillance by wearing a mask of this artist's face

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In certain locations, video cameras can track you everywhere. Artist Leo Selvaggio doesn't think that'll go away, so he's proposing a way around it: a single mask of a human face that anyone can wear if they don't want to be identified. Selvaggio is creating a full prosthetic and a simple paper mask that both feature a replica of his own face, making it so that wearers of the mask will be identified as him by automated recognition software. Selvaggio is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the masks, which are part of a project titled URME Surveillance (pronounced as a slurring of "you're me" — an apt description of the project).

"I propose that we change what's being surveilled."URME's goal isn't simply to hide wearers, but rather to make a point out of their hiding. "Changing the state of surveillance at our current rate of technological growth is impossible," Selvaggio says in a video promoting his crowdfunding campaign. He believes that surveillance is here to stay, and he's more interested in subverting its intentions than directly fighting to stop it. "I propose that we change what's being surveilled until the reason we are surveilled is no longer relevant," he says. "I'm talking about changing us."

Broad as that goal may be, Selvaggio believes there will be interesting implications for identity in a world where hundreds of him could be seen walking down the street. He's also creating one other means of hiding your physical identity: an app for OS X that will replace faces in a video with his own face. He'll also be using this to conceal the identity of contributors to a separate project, which will collect video recordings of people sharing their stories and opinions on surveillance.