If police wear body armor to protect themselves while in public, what must The Public wear to protect themselves from the police?

The Argus Project is a striking and urgently needed multi-media project and provocation that aims to broaden and nuance the debate around police violence and structural racism. As the team notes,

“In an era where police violence is being increasingly understood as a systemic problem tied to deeper issues of Structural Racism and Economic Inequality, police body cameras are being proposed as the solution.  We seek to generate a more expansive, systemic conversation to this critical debate.”

The Argus Project is a wearable sculpture, video installation and countersurveilance training which directly intersects the public debate over police accountability.

According to ancient Greek myth, Argus Panoptes was a giant with 100 eyes who served as an eternal watchman, both for – and against – the gods.  By embedding an array of camera “eyes” into a full body suit of tactical armor, the Argus exo-suit creates a “force field of accountability” around the bodies of those targeted.

While some see filming the police as a confrontational or subversive act, it is in fact, a deeply democratic one.  The act of bearing witness to the actions of the state – and showing them to the world – strengthens our society and institutions.

The Argus Project is not so much about an individual hero, but the Citizen Body as a whole.

Together, we are all Argus.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/185745057″>Argus Project – Excerpt</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/ligaiya”>Ligaiya Romero</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Of their wearable sculpture, the Argus exo-suit, the team writes:

According to ancient Greek myth, Argus Panoptes was a giant with 100 eyes who served as an eternal watchman, both for – and against – the gods.  By embedding an array of camera “eyes” into a full body suit of tactical armor, the Argus exo-suit creates a “force field of accountability” around the bodies of those targeted. The Argus Exo-Suit is a futuristic superhero outfit to be worn by citizen activists and those who feel in danger of state violence.  Technologically, the suit is a head-to-toe mobile counter-surveillance device embedded with illuminated, micro-computer controlled cameras (i.e. its’  eyes) that allows the wearer, and its’ audience of remote viewers, to monitor and record police behavior. However, the suit also functions on the mythological level, as the design brings together many resonant cultural references, from pop-culture characters like Tron or Iron Man, to Video Games and Afro futurism.  Together, it creates an inspiring, actually-existing superhero character to inspire citizens who seek to uphold community safety and our democratic values as a society.

Meanwhile, the video installations, which are accompanied by a range of educational programs and materials, aim to create a more expansive, personal and systemic conversation to this critical debate.

The video installation takes place across multiple screens and surfaces, to create a feeling of multiple voices in conversation with each other.  Part documentary, part science fiction, the story is told in 6 chapters, and features the voices of family members of victims of police violence, police officers willing to speak candidly about their experiences, and grassroots activists.  In emotionally resonant and deeply personal conversations, they discuss their stories, the impacts of systemic racism on society, the pervasive surveillance of low income communities of color, and the profound change brought about by citizen videographers who are now ‘watching back’ in response.  The entire story is told through the eyes of a silent narrator:  The Argus Operating System, and animated, Graphic User iInterface (GUI) that is half machine, half mythological being, who uses motion graphics to analyze the the issue from a systemic level, and present its’ conclusions about what we must do in response.

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Image downloaded from The Argus Project website | July 2017

Clicking on the “Be A Part of the Solution” tab will take you to a contact form where you’ll be asked if you have a skillset (ex: computer science, electrical engineering, data science, etc?) or contacts or leads (such as funders, media makers, other collaborators, etc).

Posted by:Elsa

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