From typefaces that confuse robots to systems that can (allegedly) detect drones near your home, products that claim to protect you from the prying eyes of Big Brother are all the rage right now. Even art museums are getting in on the action — like the New Museum, which just opened its own Privacy Gift Shop.
The shop is populated with objects designed by Johanna Bloomfield and Adam Harvey, the artist known for selling a Stealth Hoodie which claims to block the wearer from the view of heat-seeking drones. At the New Museum, you can buy all sorts of Harvey's drone-proof clothing, which is made with a metallic fabric that blocks thermal cameras (the type of which are often used by military UAVs).
According to Harvey, the whole project was inspired by an unsettling run-in with an intelligence agency, which contacted him earlier this year to request permission to publish some of his artwork as part of a classified report. "I obliged, but was frustrated by the odd request," Harvey says in a statement. "Was I a suspect or an inspiration? Beguiled, I imagined a way to make my work as accessible and unclassifiable as possible." The result was a line of clothing and accessories, each offering its own particular method of avoiding surveillance.
For example, you can pick up an Anti-Drone Scarf, or an OFF Pocket phone case that blocks all wireless signals. Or Harvey's Metal Dollar Bill — a small copper wallet insert that shields credit cards from being RFID skimmed by identity thieves. Finally, there's a neat (albeit fairly useless) t-shirt that read "I Love NY," written in a typeface designed to evade Optical Character Recognition — the process by which the NSA and other agencies scan handwritten notes.
And yes: These are all very conceptual, despite the fact that you can buy them. But while they might not provide tangible privacy protection, they do provide proof that while you might not give a shit about PRISM (or any other surveillance program), there's a booming market for those who do. The Gift Shop will be open until September 28th. Check it out online here.
The OFF Pocket phone case, $US100.
The Metal Dollar Bill, $US25.
An "I Heart NY" shirt, written in OCR-blocking font, $US40.
The Stealth Scarf, $US450.