Local Report

Re-posting from Creativetime.org


Local Report 2012 is a multifaceted installation by renowned American artist Robert Whitman, marks the launch of Creative Time’s latest initiative, Creative Time Reports, a new website devoted to artists’ analysis of news and events around the world. 

It began with a one-hour performance for which Whitman invited 90 people in 90 cities across the globe to use cell phones to make four calls to Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, in New York City. The first of the calls transmitted a 20-second video clip of the reporters’ surroundings. The reporters then moved to a new location and placed the second call, comprising a verbal description of something they saw in their new surroundings. As the reporters moved to a third and fourth location in their cities, they provided a second round of video- and voice dispatches. Meanwhile, at the performance site, the video clips were projected onto five large screens as they were received, moving from one screen to the next as each report arrived. The voice calls were answered by Whitman and played on multiple speakers. 

You can check the video recording here.


Local Report 2012
was the most recent version of a performance concept that Whitman developed in 1972. At that time, reporters throughout New York City made calls on pay phones, describing something in their immediate surroundings, and the resulting reports were broadcast via a local radio station. Over the years, the performances have moved from pay phones to cell phones to video cell phones, and from a single city to cities across the globe. Today, thanks to the speed of communication, local has become global, and global has become local.

The performance also took place around the world, as the video and voice reports were transmitted live to three viewing sites: Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, Stanford University, Stanford, California, as part of the 2012 Zero1 Biennial; the School of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; and Le Consortium, Dijon, France. 

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Can we call this surveillance art?