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Michael Gessner’s Photo Book Masse Examines The Ubiquity Of Surveillance

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German photographer Michael Gessner has produced a new photo book titled Masse, a poignant series of images that explore the alarming ways in which individuals are monitored in society—and the ways in which we monitor ourselves internally, through tracking our own behaviors and actions.

High-tech surveillance was once reserved for spy services in action movies. Yet the pervasiveness of such surveillance is a predicament of our own making; it’s an issue we are only just beginning to fathom. Data mining and electronic monitoring have brought about concerned discussions of privacy—at what point do these seemingly harmless techniques, justified in the name of security and safety, toe the line of complete violation? Gessner’s series is a meditation on this discussion. Masse can be understood as a sociological exploration of our tracked behaviors as we move through the digital and physical worlds.

There is a presence of cameras throughout Masse juxtaposed against abstract shots of empty corridors and streetscapes in Berlin, Seoul, and New York. What do these cameras see? And who is watching us through them? Though the questions remain unanswered, Gessner’s work sets an eerie tone, where rooftop satellites and CCTV cameras are taken from context and scrutinized themselves. Throughout the series, a deceptive isolation gives the viewer the sense that they are both observing and being observed; an experience that resonates as the controversy of our modern times. Masse will be available at Drittel Books from September and can be pre-ordered here.

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All images © Michael Gessner