Steven Levon Ounanian & Thomas Thwaites
The black-market operates alongside an open economy of security products and theft insurance. It benefits the open market to hype the risks, as goods that are stolen will need to be replaced. Honey Trap is a bicycle designed to be stolen and able to record its own surroundings: relaying sound, images and other information about its subsequent whereabouts.
Making a spectacle of the crime, this sensational ‘gaze’ is certainly uncomfortable, but allows an examination of rights to surveillance and the treatment of crime in the media. Raising these fundamental concerns through the Honey Trap project, the artists posed the question: “Is our use of someone else’s misfortune, or opportunism, in our art project justified because they stole our bike?”
After customising the bicycle with mobile phone technologies, that could monitor its existence once stolen by relaying images and data back to their project headquarters at the Gallery, it was then left at various locations around the town in the hope it would attract an unsuspecting thief.
Over the course of the residency the artists held informal meetings, public presentations and open debates to consider the technical logistics and legal complexities relating to the project. Participating audiences viewed surveillance footage and photographs taken from the bicycle’s on-board camera, and discussed issues of theft, art and social ethics addressed and raised by the planting of their Honey Trap.
Despite earnest attempts throughout the week to get it stolen – and a playful ‘false-alarm’ by a fellow artist – the bicycle is still currently in the artists’ own possession.