Public Domain


The above image shows Amber Stanza ...which was used on the book cover Art Practice In A Digital Culture. it cannot be used reproduced in any form without written consent.

Title: Public Domain: You Are My Property, My Data, My Art, My Love. 2008

Public Domain is the title of a series of practice led experiments investigating how visitors to a gallery interact with art works and with each other.

The Public Domain Series involves using live surveillance systems (CCTV) that are already installed in the galleries and then using these cameras to enhance the audiences experience and engagement of the gallery.

The visitors to the gallery, are in fact assets they could be referred to as data. Visitors are units of data, moving around the giant database (the gallery), and it it this data that is used to make the artwork. The gallery (or museum) is turned into an artwork and the visitor (or audience) into collaborators.

The visitors to the gallery are embedded in the system (the gallery) and become the artwork as well a voyeurs. It becomes reflexive spectacle.

There is increasing interest in the gallery space as a place for social engagement, audience participation and curatorial innovation and interaction around the convergence of arts and technology. This concept of the exhibition as an active site for experimentation and collaboration between curators, artists and audiences theoretically informs this work. Public Domain whilst using new sensing technologies provides a platform for investigating and creating new types of interactive public engagement artworks for art museums and galleries.

Interactive computational based art is a provocative cultural form which breaks down disciplinary boundaries and leads to the emergence of hybrid spaces for production, experimentation and exhibition. Culturally and technologically, Public Domain operates within new interdisciplinary and participative models for production, experimentation and exhibition.


This project investigates the real time gallery space and the experience of the gallery visitor as they interact with artworks and with each other.The work explores new ways of thinking about interaction within public space using data gathered from new technologies. The visitors are “performers” whose movements can be tracked.

The patterns, movement, and exchanges of data in the real space, are measured and interpreted as an emergent social space and used to make new artworks.  New technologies sensors and surveillance tracking systems and facial recognition systems will monitor the space, track public interactions, and provide “interpretative” responses via the clusters of visitors within the gallery.

This project and artworks investigate the real time gallery space and the experience of the gallery visitor, using data gathered from new technologies that can be used for tracking and measuring qualitative experiences. The objective is to explore new ways of thinking about interaction within public space and how this affects the socialization of space. 

While questions of public participation, public space and public technologies are well known discourses in the development of wireless, mobile and context-aware technologies, little systematic attention has actually been given to what constitutes the public who are visitors to the gallery. 

The gallery (or museum) is turned into an artwork and the visitor (or audience) into collaborators exposing the patterns of data in the process


If you want to develop some of these ideas in your gallery please email.

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Surveillance Artwork By Stanza

Click on image above to enter online a labyrinth simulation where live surveillance data gets updates in real time across the network to make the experience. (you need shockwave installed)

SEE Gallery Of Lost Souls 2006.


A number of interesting questions are raised.

1. How do visitors interact with each other and artworks?

2. How do visitors behave in public space and what patterns or communities do they form.

3. Can these outputs reshape our experience of public space and the art?

Art and public engagement as practice based research.

Essentially I am investigating how visitors interact with art works, with each other and what impact their experiences have in forming new user interactions within public space. The research will lead to new real time artworks based on visitor interaction and new visualizations of the gallery space based on gathered sensor data.

Environmental monitoring technologies and security based technologies can be used to question audiences experiences of the event and space and gather data to show: what they do, how they interact, and how much they spend time inside the space. One example project focuses on the micro-incidents of change, the vibrations and sounds of the gallery using wireless sensor based technologies. see version one prototype Gallery. The gallery interior has been made virtual and placed online. "Gallery", is part of a series of process led experiments in data visualization within the context on an art gallery.

The work can go further to investigate a number of issues including how technology affords new ways of working with audiences and curators as participants in artworks. The concept of the exhibition as an active site for experimentation and collaboration between curators, artists and audiences prefigures a general cultural movement towards the centrality of experience and away from the reification of the object. However, how audience activities and movements can be used as the subject of new artwork as well as modify engagement with existing collections is a cultural and technological challenge.

See another installation in this series made at Plymouth Arts Centre. Visitors to a Gallery- referential self, embedded

Are surveillance and security systems of use in thinking about the new museum of the 21st century?

Can we think of the gallery as public domain space, a commons space?

Surveillance Artwork By Stanza



Stanza. The galleries live CCTV systems are used to enhance gallery space, the experience and make a new artwork.(pilgrims image 2003)(c) stanza

(pilgrims image 2003) (c) stanza

Stanza public engagement in an art gallery

image 2002 Pilgrims (c) stanza

Art as practice based research

Public Domain asks:-

  1. How do visitors interact with each other and artworks, what patterns or communities do they form?
  2. What is happening in the gallery space as a social space in terms of social dynamics?
  3. How can we input back into this social space and create an emergent space?
  4. How can interactive artworks and new user based experiences based on where people go and how they spend time in the gallery be made from the real time data and the analysis of CCTV in the gallery.
  5. How do museums see and understand the value of the use of personal mobile media within the museum?

In a series of seminars, "Tate Encounters Research in Progress", at Tate Modern, the question was asked "To what extent does the web visitor have agency to 'act back' or to 'author' their interactions with museum websites? How is new media being conceived as an 'interpretative' or 'augmenting' dimension of the museum experience and with what effects?

Public Domain will access and analyze available data relating to gallery spaces and public interactions to make informed, interpretive media artworks by deploying wireless sensor networks to gather various types of data in the gallery and to collect (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, noise, proximity measuring). The information will be incorporated into generative artworks and online visualizations of the gallery that will change over time. In addition artworks using CCTV surveillance systems in the gallery to trace public interaction patterns using software in existence and to create new software and new algorithms.

Stanza public engagement in an art gallery Stanza public engagement in an art gallery
Stanza public engagement in an art gallery


There are ways to address these questions online and offline through engaging closer with technology. One has to experiment with the technology and understand how to get under the bonnet, and then new novel outcomes will shed light on this question.

The institutions can grow into a networked system with connected infrastructure and be in touch with measurable visitor experience which could equally be shared used to make artworks and of use for marketing and curatorial perspectives.

Above image show first version mixer software used in another project called Public Domain in 2006

Collecting data and exhibited back in the gallery. 2008

Collecting CCTV and exhibiting back in the gallery. 2008 (Visitors to A Gallery)


Made using Stanza software from crowds. see Parallel Reality series.


Researchers and curators at art galleries and museums globally could benefit from the impact of this project. It addresses audience participation utilizing technologies that most of these spaces will already have.

Public Domain is a cross disciplinary project, involving art and new technologies is experimental form. This will benefit interactive and interface design, fine arts and wireless sensor networks.

Stanza's prototypes and artworks help answer questions about user interaction and create version for types of interfacing with live audiences and real spaces. This kind of investigation through experimental practice based research, new technologies, discourse and debate is part of long term thinking about strategies for audience engagement, visitor experience and sustainability within an ever diminishing public purse.

Creative and marketing staff in public spaces are asking how does user interaction support the brand. They ask again how the users act back, can we use this agency in the space. Public Domain demonstrates this agency.

Questions about qualitative analysis of data in gallery space.

For example, ‘Taking Part’, a survey of cultural engagement states; “The Arts Council set out to understand the range of complex, interrelated factors that influence cultural consumption and participation patterns.“ On the other hand, the Arts Marketing Association (AMA) 2008 states: (10) “Arts organizations need to learn how to read and understand 'why' people engage or don't engage with their work on an ongoing basis if they are to continue to exist and thrive". The Tate Encounters: Research in Process (March 2008); Andrew Dewdney asks; “who comes and what is the experience of the user in the museum”. Andrew posed this question in the seminar, “how do the users act back, can we use this agency in the space”?

These are but three key examples of how public investment in the arts needs to be more closely tied to shifting and more complex ideas about the nature and quality of public engagement in the arts. Whilst the AHRC’s report, Leading the World: the economic impact of UK arts and humanities research (2009:8) acknowledges that, “Visits to museums, galleries and historical sites are a major activity of the British people. Approximately 40% of all adults visit a museum or gallery at least once a year,” we have yet to measure the quality of the visitor’s experience.
The Museum of Ireland has already recognized this by stating on its virtual web space that,” quality is more important than quantity… museum”.

Public Domain provides evidence of visitor experience from within an artist’s perspective, from within public debate about user engagement, interaction and feedback previously un addressed in the seminars and conferences named above.

The gallery (or museum) is turned into an artwork and the visitor (or audience) into collaborators.


In previous work I focused on the data space. I now aim to focus on the body within the data space. I am now re-mediating the body to ask the question what is the shifting experience of the body and to the body in these new social spaces. I try to exploit the changing dynamics of space as a source for creativity and create meaningful artistic metaphors. I utilize new technologies and integrate new media artworks into the public domain as part of this ongoing research into the visualization of environments. In essence I am researching data as a medium for creativity and how meaningful experiences may result.

The mixing of data and information services allows a “mash up” of ideas an organic form of art within social spaces. This remediation might allow a new social interaction and a new openness in public domain space. The re-contextualizing of data can also allow new public interactions, and new informational services, onto mobile phone, kiosks as well as to online virtual worlds and new output devices.

Public Domain offers novel solutions for agency or user feedback that were not discussed in this series of seminars. It may be that subjectivities are changed in the process of fleeting experience but the use of agency would need further cultural analysis which would be part of the public seminar output. The data collected will be formatted into XML feeds online so that it can be interpreted to make the artwork visualizations and speculate on other possible uses. These feeds can further be used to merge the real and the physical space of the museum both by placing data online and creating online visualizations and then using the changing data in the gallery space to trigger physical events or artworks that can be located anywhere.

Surveillance. By using CCTV in the gallery we can see what happens if we open up this system. How are the notions of privacy opened up? Analyse visitor flow via various algorithms in the system and potentially creating new software. Focus on what happens in the public space and our relationship to one another and the premise of “trust” within the interactive and social process? Make a CCTV algorithm for aesthetic tracking.

The AMA 2008 conference raised similar questions with the answers are being posed from an arts marketing viewpoint. I would like to reframe these questions ands pose them from that of new creative models and emergent spaces from a creative perspective. By “asking” where people go and why, what people look at, what artworks they engage with and the qualitative data that can be gathered using the technologies I propose, the experience of the user space can be richly informed. Most audience user interaction material is to give additional and often educational informational services were users carry PDA’s that give extra commentary, not to re-use reform as a new experience or artwork. The Public in West Bromwich embedded RFID to making artworks but not to speculate on how it can affect the experience of the space.

Though I have indicated that visitors can be thought of units of data, it is also possible to “re-mediate” the body in the data space in order that a new, emergent, social space is created. New technologies will monitor the space to track public interactions and provide “interpretative” and the cluster of visitors within the gallery. The visitors become the performers whose movements can be tracked.

There hasn’t been much work using existing CCTV networks in buildings trying to expand these networks for cultural purposes, they are by and large employed for surveillance. Artists in this area tend to focus on the recorded image as film, or as separate isolated installations. This work will focus on the new patterns that can be disclosed by new embedded algorithms and how that can support our research context, that of a real time user experience across the whole gallery.

I believe the discourse, conclusions, and visualizations, arising from this programme will be of value to a wide general audience. Other bodies which might benefit from this speculative research (and consequential data) include other artists and arts organisations, curators, and architects.


The first outputs are prototype artworks, using real data as mediated responses to the environment. They will be displayed to the public. For example one experiment will be interactive real time tracking of the visitors to a gallery; this will be visualized and these traces will be used to create time maps of interactions and this can be shown on displays back inside the gallery and online through the website. The I will develop meaningful ways of visualizing data output, which are responsive to emerging research findings.

Why is the proposal timely?

The proposal is timely because:

It offers different and novel creative solutions that synergize audiences with the arts spaces they inhabit.

it recognizes that arts spaces are increasingly becoming entertainment spaces

It enhances the quality of visitor experience, however fleetingly, in the moment of that experience.


Stanza The data gallery

Embedding the audience into the fabric of the gallery

Stanza  CCTV in public domain

Using surveillance in the gallery to remeditate the body in the space and make new works

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Stanza artworks images and texts all rights reserved. The copyright for any material published on this website is reserved. Any duplication or use of objects such as images, diagrams and texts is not permitted without Stanza's written agreement.

This document was submitted as a research proposal to the AHRC in 2009 also sent the The Whitechapel Art Gallery and Tate Modern.

(C) copyright Stanza 2008

Surveillance Artwork By Stanza

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Visitors To A Gallery - Referential Self, Embedded . 2008

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