Award winning cross-media project Urban Eyes is a networked urban space installation and critical design concept. It aims to provide an alternative view on the city, using pigeons as the messengers of camera and other imagery overlooking the main streets and back alleys as their eyes.
With the help of modern technology, Urban Eyes introduces a new agent to the layered data networks of any large scale cityplex, the living biomass and behaviour patterns of the city pigeon or rock dove (Columba livia). Born from the psychogeographic notions of Bill Drummonds map based concepts and a spoonful of sousveillance movement, Urban Eyes twists the panoptic atmosphere, asks what we know about modern security technology like RFID and connects us back to a very alive in the form of the animals, yet dead practice of shamanism in urban architectural "ruled" space.
Together with Jussi Ängeslevä, Marcus Kirsch presented the project's origins and concept back from his MA at the Royal College of Art and the findings of his research during the V2_ residency and will give an exclusive example run of the prototype built in and with the help of V2_ Lab over the last two month as well as Urban Eyes' future.
In a mixture of revived shamanism and panoptic view that might challenge the artificial network of CCTV cameras, the pigeon population's unpredictable movement patterns offer a set of eyes that could offer a unique view onto unknown places. Based on the Bavarian Pigeon Corps from 1903, where homing pigeons were equipped with tiny cameras to take aerial shots from behind enemy lines, Urban Eyes uses RFID and wireless technology to turn the once able urban pigeon into a chaotic agent and messenger of visual impressions from the road you never took.
Perceived as a critical design concept and public art installation, Urban Eyes accesses the live network of pigeons to expand what you know about your own city and reclaim the exploring stage of citylife. In 2004 the project proposal of Urban Eyes won 3rd price at Fusedspace, an international competition for innovative applications for new technology in the public domain.
Urban Eyes is made possible with support of Datamars S.A., Sokymat, Motz-Computer, Arts Council England and V2_Lab.