I’m the guy in a lot of those photos above. There’s me in college, studying abroad in Trinidad; there’s me goofing off with my best friend in high school; there’s (lots and lots of) me and my girlfriend. It’s a little unsettling having all those tiny, relatively intimate moments up there, but if I’m sharing them with Facebook, why not share them with you guys, too?
Why? Because Facehawk, a wonderful, frightening net art piece masquerading as a music video by Rajeev Basu. The work, set to the song “Dangerous” by the appropriately-named dance-pop band Big Data, plunges your Facebook profile for photos and status updates, then blows them up across your browser. Eventually, the archived memories and bits of personal information reform, taking the shape of a majestic bird (hence the name).
Try it here. I’ll wait.
“The idea was inspired straight from the song, which is about watching while being watched: voyeurism in the digital age,” Basu tells ANIMAL. “And what better way to play with that then to somehow mess with the world’s most used tool for ‘watching,’ Facebook?”
Big Data’s Alan Wilkis echoesthat sentiment. “We can anonymously spy on people and look deeply into their private lives via the web, and yet at the same time, Facebook and countless other agencies are all simultaneously watching and tracking our every digital move,” he says.
“Musically speaking, the song feels fun, light, and danceable on the surface, but there is an unsettling undercurrent to it,” Wilkis adds. “In the same way, the way that we engage with others via internet feels mostly harmless and fun 99% of the time, but when you think a little more deeply about it, there’s something very scary about it. We’ve basically resigned ourselves to a life with increasingly-diminished privacy, and yet we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The video asks the viewer to reckon with his or her own digital exhibitionism and voyeurism, simply by recontextualizing their own Facebook page. But why the big bird?
“The video is about being watched,” says Basu. “And nothing watches you quite like a hawk.”