Sorting Daemon is a site specific installation commissioned by and designed for the Goethe Institut Toronto gallery space for their "Surveillance Terrorism Democracy" program in the spring of 2003. The piece was triggered by my concerns about the increasing use of automated systems for profiling people as part of the "war on terrorism" and is an attempt to help ask questions about appropriate uses of technology.
Like many of my other works, "Sorting Daemon" surveys its environment and uses the resulting images as the primary content of the work. In this specific case, the system looks out onto the street, panning, tilting and zooming, looking for moving things that might be people. When it finds what it thinks might be a person, it removes the person's image from the background.
The extracted person is then divided up according to areas of similar colour. The resulting swatches of colour are then placed within the arbitrary context of the composite image projected in the KinoWelt Hall at the Institut.
On the left side of the composite, flesh-coloured patches are sorted by hue (olive on the left, pink on the right) and size (largest on the bottom and smallest on the top.
The right side accumulates all the other coloured patches, sorted by hue horizontally and saturation vertically (with most saturated at the bottom. (Saturation is the intensity of the colour.)
The extracted person first appears 'whole' at the bottom of the composite and then slowly separates into coloured regions which each move to their appropriate location in the composite.