Artist Lauren McCarthy wants to be your virtual assistant, but the catch is you have to invite her into your home to surveil your life. It might not sound like a bad idea, since she promises to listen to you, control your appliances for you, and do many other tasks you might require. It seems almost to good to be true, right?
During the Day for Night Summit, McCarthy discussed her “Lauren” project, a surveillance art work that solicits invitations from the public to have the Los Angeles-based artist come into your home and wire it for 24/7 surveillance. First, however, you have to answer a few simple question, including: “Please explain why you want to try LAUREN, and describe what is unique about your home.” If the artist selects you, she arrives to your doorstep and promises to become your “human intelligent smart home” assistant for roughly three days.
McCarthy’s project is clearly a commentary on the new craze for personal home assistants being pushed by tech companies. In an age when we already feel overwhelmed by digital surveillance, it’s surprising that these new devices are entering homes so easily. As the artist mentioned during our conversation, unlike previous devices that were often given to children by parents, this device has the ability to be ubiquitous from day one. The implications, as the artist demonstrates, are serious.