What Solange Knowles should have worn into the elevator

Singer Solange Knowles arrives for the Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Awards in New York in this November 12, 2012 file photo. A New York boutique hotel on May 12, 2014 said it was investigating how a recording of a security video that purportedly shows rapper Jay Z being attacked by his sister-in-law, R&B singer Solange Knowles, was leaked to a website. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Singer Solange Knowles in New York in 2012. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

“Behind closed doors” is a thing of the past. If recent spectacles involving Solange Knowles, former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford prove anything, it’s that the tape is always rolling.

Whether you’re an angry sister-in-law angling for an elevator fight, a mayor sneaking a crack pipe or just an average guy who thinks your whereabouts are nobody else’s beeswax, maybe you need a personal surveillance identity prosthetic.

Created by Leo Selvaggio, a Chicago-based artist, the URME (pronounced “U R Me” — get it?) anti-surveillance mask is designed to trick surveillance cameras and facial recognition software like those deployed by the Chicago police department into thinking you’re someone else.

The 3D-printed mask, made with technology from ThatsMyFace.com, features the artist’s own face with holes where the eyes should be. It looks as creepy as it sounds. And it works too. The mask tricked Facebook’s facial recognition software, which is used to identify people in photos uploaded by users, Selvaggio said on the crowdfunding Web site Indiegogo, where he is raising money for the project.

“When you wear these devices the cameras will track me instead of you and your actions in public space will be attributed as mine because it will be me the cameras see,” said the artist, who is working on his MFA at Chicago’s Columbia College.


Selvaggio doesn’t endorse using the mask to conceal illicit activity, but he knows it could happen. “I have weighed out the possibility that a crime may become associated with me,” he told CNET. “That being said, I have come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all.”

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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