Louis Cameron, Times Square Ring of Steel


The Gallery at 1GAP, Richard Meier 'On Prospect Park'
September 13 - January 8, 2014

In a series of black and white portraits, “Times Square Ring of Steel,” Cameron’s subject is the suspicious civilian passing through Times Square. The neighborhood is a security hotspot full of bright lights, commerce, and tourism. Ubiquitous cameras hang from lampposts and buildings above the bustle, logging visual records of foot traffic. Pedestrians, unaware that they’re being recorded, stream one after another into overlapping fields of observation. The operators of these cameras are the NYPD, corporate entities, deli owners, The Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, and others. However, Cameron’s interest seems to lie in images with an authoritarian perspective, situated above and behind the world below them. When he chooses specific photographs from a multitude of webcam recordings, the creative act begins at the moment of selection: a passerby carrying backpack, a woman wearing a hijab, a man in a baseball cap, and so on.

Cameron ushers the transformation of another series of rote surveillance photographs from public records to discreet art objects; he does so by accessing street webcams through websites where such images pour into the public domain. In “Domain Awareness”, a series of colorful Brooklyn landscapes, Cameron has chosen images from the borough’s busiest hubs: the Barclays Center, the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street, and other locations. Like the familiar Google street view map system, city surveillance webcams produce online snapshots that capture the movement of traffic in real-time. Notably, for this exhibition, he photographed himself standing at Grand Army Plaza by using his cell phone to access a webcam. This elaborate self-portrait exploits the advanced technology and perspective that our particular historical moment allows. It also points to the vulnerability of any one individual to be easily located among a colossal maze of streets and buildings.

Limited to the webcams he utilizes, the artist engages his audience with questions about surveillance through selection: why does he paint the individuals and places he does? This concern plays into our own feelings of suspicion, and our own vulnerabilities. As viewers we’re left to interpret the content of Cameron’s work, to be complicit in the process of determining their meaning. 

About the Artist

Louis Cameron was born in Columbus, Ohio, raised in Los Angeles, California, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a B.F.A. from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and an M.F.A. from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. Cameron has had solo exhibitions and projects at the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Jersey City Museum, New Jersey; The Kitchen, New York; The Armory Show, and I-20 Gallery, New York. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Portugal Arte 10, Lisbon; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Brooklyn Museum, and the Dakar Biennial, Senegal. His work is in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Cameron has taught at Princeton University, Yale University, Brooklyn College, and Pace University.