CATALOGUE - Timo Toots, Memoпол-II. – gateways. Art and Networked Culture. [Näituse kataloog]. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011
Memopol-II is a social machine that maps the visitor’s information field. By inserting an identification document such as a national ID card or EU passport into the machine, it starts collecting information about the visitor from (inter)national databases and the Internet. The data is then visualized on a large-scale custom display. The collection panel also shows the portraits of the visitors from their ID card.
The Cyrillic spelling of the installation’s name refers to George Orwell's concept of Big Brother from his 1949 dystopian novel 1984. Over the past decades, technological means have transformed the surveillance of society. When surfing on the Internet, paying with an ATM card, or using an ID card, people leave their digital traces everywhere. Internet and social networks gather and provide a great deal of personal information, and a person’s profile is no longer constituted by his or her physical being alone, but also by the person’s digital information, over which he or she sometimes has little control. Background checks through Internet search engines and social network sites have become routine when we meet somebody new or apply for a job. Memopol-II enables us to make a thorough background check of ourselves, mirroring back to us all the data about us that is accessible via the Internet.
Estonia is well ahead of other countries in governmental data collecting, storing citizen information online and making it accessible to different degrees to an individual person and to government agencies. It is a convenient means for electronic identification and for making various transactions by inserting it in to the different ID-card readers. The harmless looking electronic card readers seldom bring to mind thoughts about malevolent third parties who might have unauthorized access to the protected information. By means of Memopol-II, Timo Toots tests either our trust or paranoia toward the machines that read the information.