The surveillance state is about to get a little more attractive.
Starting Friday, four biometric scanning kiosks at Reagan National Airport will be decorated with works by two D.C.-area artists. The art is sponsored by Clear, a private company that aims to move air travelers more quickly through the security line.
Travelers who enroll with Clear for $179 a year can bypass the ID-check line at several airports and head to a Clear kiosk to get their eyes or fingerprints scanned. At National, the kiosks that will display the art can be seen by all passengers as they approach security. (Clear is different from the TSA PreCheck program, which allows you to keep your shoes and belt on during physical scanning.)
If you find the juxtaposition of art and airport security confusing, so does local artist Bill Crandall, who received $3,000 for two black-and-white photos of D.C. neighborhoods he took that will be installed on the kiosks.
“It’s a bit of a jarring contrast, to have this kind of technology that’s sort of associated with the surveillance of people, that almost has a future-dystopian vibe to it, and yet the photos are coming from a more human-scale, small, poetic place,” he says. “I see it as taking advantage of an opportunity to get art into an unexpected place where people will see it.”
It’s also a way to show travelers a side of D.C. they may have missed, Crandall says. One of his photos included in the airport display, “U Street,” shows a boy jumping off a playground swing with D.C. rowhomes in the background. The other, “Woodley Park,” shows that neighborhood in all of its leafy glory.
Crandall’s photos will be joined by art by Arlington-based painter Barbara Januszkiewicz, who painted abstract works directly on two kiosks. A former flight attendant, Januszkiewicz was on an Eastern Air Lines plane that was hijacked in 1980, so she’s untroubled by the increase in airport security since then. In fact, she’s found Clear’s iris scanners to be inspirational.
“If you look at how beautiful the eye can be, it has its own inside patterns and colors,” she says. “Come back and look at my painting — you can see that they are similar.”
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