November 2, 2015

Introducing L’oeil Vigilant: a poetry magazine in the form of a surveillance feed for your smartphone

Broodthaers Society of America
Courtesy Broodthaers Society of America.

Today is the launch of L’oeil Vigilant, a poetry magazine in the form of a surveillance feed from the Broodthaers Society of America. The feed offers a view, in the foreground, of a brass eagle navigating the top of a derelict flag pole. The background is the sky over Wall Street. In between, the ambient comings and goings of sunlight, clouds, aircraft, snow, night, and birds great and small are captured 24/7.

L’oeil Vigilant, which loosely translates as “the watchful eye,” was inspired by a chain of observations on the work of Marcel Broodthaers and the serendipitous view out of our front windows.

Marcel Broodthaers died in 1976, just as video was becoming a common artistic practice, but long before there was a brisk consumer market for Internet-based digital surveillance systems. Given developments in his visual aesthetic at the time of his death—exhibitions in Berlin, London, and Paris belied a budding interest in “all-over” visual composition—we like to think that Broodthaers was beginning to sense the cognitive shift of the television age: the disciplined, participatory effect of viewing images on superficial dot matrix screens. It would seem that Broodthaers was becoming aware that we don’t watch such screens so much as surveil them, our eyes pulled across every bit of their surfaces in order to monitor their content.

There is a similar watchfulness—and distraction—in Broodthaers late work. L’oeil Vigilant is dedicated to that ongoing game of cat and mouse—or in Broodthaers’ case, eagle and fish.

The magazine will function in monthly episodes written and designed by guest artists in remote conversation with our apparatus. Based on their instructions, we will log into the surveillance system and make daily visual and verbal adjustments to the camera feed, its moveable text box, and its overall graphic design. Season 1 will feature episodes by E.L. Burchfield, Allana Clarke, Sowon Kwon, Vincent Meessen, Vanessa Place, and George Weinberg.

Subscriptions are 15.00 USD for one year and available via Paypal or credit card at our website. Subscribers will receive instructions for how to locate, download and install the appropriate Swann Security app for their device, as well as the necessary UID and access codes. Subscriptions are for one year and are renewable.

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