Undercover – Raising Awareness of Mass Surveillance Through Collective Contribution

Sherry Shao is a designer, creative technologist, and artist. She has a background in Communication and Media Design from Tongji University, and is an MFA in Design & Technology Candidate from the Parsons School of Design. For her thesis, she developed Undercover, a conceptual AR game that aims to raise awareness of mass surveillance.

Although the publicly stated intent of installing CCTV systems across cities is to improve public security, the omnipresence of cameras in major cities is in reality, excessive. People are gradually becoming used to being watched by digital eyes and therefore forgetting about their individual rights, including protecting their personal biometric information.

Facial recognition is widely applied on machines for security checks and flow control. As facial characteristics are often taken as recognition marks, Sherry proposed that people mark the cameras’ position, type, sight, etc. Through the process of actively seeking out the cameras and subsequently, hiding from them, people will be able to see how constantly they are being watched and will be empowered to be more vigilant about their data privacy.

Sherry developed Undercover as a response to this proliferation of surveillance cameras in the world. Undercover is a conceptual AR game design that aims to raise awareness of mass surveillance through collective contribution. The play is embedded in the AR map navigation experience where the player can locate and hide from cameras with the help of Yo, Marsh, and Cooper.