More selected projects

I Shouldn't Hear The Chicago Police 

by: Charlie Stillwell

The internet is constantly enabling us with new opportunities to watch or listen to people. There is a constant debate in society about how we are constantly under surveillance in our daily lives. I was listening to a podcast with TJ Di Santis, and he mentioned that he had been listening to the Chicago Police Scanner. He expressed he was shocked by the sheer violence and danger of the City of Chicago. I was curious, so I listened. Ten minutes later I was listening to police talking to each other over the radio in Chicago.

One could argue by proxy these police men and women were under my surveillance. I heard details of crimes, and organization between squads. I also heard some bone chilling quotes:

“Male, aged 14 wants to kill himself”

“The mother is 62 years of age, delusional, out of her mind on drugs”

“The mother is an addict”

“5 shots fired”

“Good morning, I’m here at a domestic battery”

“23 year old and daughter need shelter, she can’t walk this far with her baby”

But perhaps the most harrowing. quote I heard was; “Two 14 year old girls found not breathing”. It was a dramatic realization that due to the reach of the internet, I was potentially hearing of the news of two dead girls, before their parents had. The internet makes today's world the most connected ever, but are we becoming too connected? “I Shouldn't Hear The Chicago Police” (see below) is a digitally edited painting that attempts to depict  the difference in circumstances the internet often prevents us from seeing. 

“People Staring At Computers” by Kyle McDonald is a demonstration of people's trust and interest in the internet, technology, and its capabilities. It is usually our downfall, that is how scams often come about, our naivety. It may seem like an innocent thing at first, but surely the ability to listen to multiple police units across the United States communicate could have some unwanted consequences. How valuable is it really to have that there? Or is just there because it can be. Human nature always attempts to push the boundaries of technology.

Darket Shopper, by !MEDIENGRUPPE BITNICK is another prime example of the dangers of the web. The internet is growing in influence every day and with that comes people taking advantage of the new opportunities that have risen. This project really demonstrated how easily harmful items such as drugs or someone else’s passport details could be bought with ease. This work made me think about the endless oppurtunies there are on the internet, but also the fundamental flaw in some people that become greedy and selfish.

I attempted to depict to my audience the cold reality of the fact that I was able to listen to two girls being pronounced dead possibly before the relatives heard. There was no necessity for me to hear this, and in a way it cheapened events due to the professional manner I heard the police speaking in. I hope my audience think about the message behind my work. I used traditional media because I thought it might be slightly hypocritical to code art about the fact that we may indulge in the expanses of the internet too much.

First I sketched and copied out two images, one of a boy sitting listening to his laptop, and one of two girls lying dead in a bleak setting. Then I painted them both. I found that the colours I was able to mix from the paints really helped to express the juxtaposition of the environment of the two images. One image; warm and colourful, one cold and unfriendly. I then took a photo of both images, and put them on to Photoshop where I added my text. I also changed the contrast and added a slight crackling effect to create the illusion it was on a canvas. I felt this made it feel more like a traditional piece of art. I added the yellow banner to provide my work with some direction, and make sure it was clear what I was talking about to my audience. Whilst I wanted to send a subtle message, it was important that parts of it were clear and direct.

Overall the work presented a message in the a way a piece of art should. Painting the work added a more human touch, and the colours provided the emotion I was trying to express.  Despite the fact I believe the ever growing internet is constantly further connecting the human race, I do believe that websites like online police scanners offer more potential for trouble than positive connectivity between the people of the world. Work like this is a return to more traditional human practices. 

Chicago Police Scanner -