Sunday, December 12, 2010

X Rays: Choosing Your Level of Transparency

As a result of the new TSA XRay capabilities, we all know that there has been a major backlash of public discomfort regarding our privacy and its relationship with our security. 

In reaction, a few new products have sprung up which both poke fun at the controversy and bring further attention to the tension at its root:  Where does our 4th Amendment right come into play within this new realm of intrusive technology?

One company, Flying Pasties, offers adhesive body stickers which block the machines from visual access to a person's private parts while sending messages which range from benign tongue in cheek ("Private" or "Only My Husband Sees Me Naked") to anti-establishment (depicting the middle finger, etc):

Another company, 4th Amendment Wear, has put out products with more demure graphics, but a similar message.  They have a line of underwear for men, women and children, all emblazoned with simple text - either a transcription of the 4th Amendment itself or an admonishment to any 'perverts' who would scan the wearer:

The issue is, of course, a highly charged one.

But even so, I can't help but be inspired by the potential it brings to the design world.  The role of art and design as the champions of human rights seems well rooted in history, and I believe that at least some of this conflict will be played within those fields.

All 'issues' aside, XRay images are just plain cool, and I'm nearly as excited about this new branch of design as I was a few years ago, when black light tattoos began to spring up ...

Invisible in the day but luminescent under black light, the new medium has already been applied in some very cool ways:

There's a transient, privileged nature to both the XRay and black light mediums. 

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