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These Eavesdropping Drone Tanks Have Something to Tell You

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If you want to get an up close and personal feel for what it means to live in a surveillance society, then pay a visit to the Berlinische Galerie, where, in a cavernous gallery, German artist Nik Nowak has set loose a pair of drones to snoop on museum-goers.

Nowak has made a career out of creating imaginative—and sometimes intimidating— mechanical sound sculptures. His latest work, titled Echo, "explores shifts in the meaning of private and public in an age when digital networking is all around us. An artistic deployment of autonomous robot drones raises questions about the implications of new technologies and the cross-overs between day-to-day and military applications."


The miniature tanks—which are armed with sensitive microphones in lieu of cannons—are programmed to approach visitors and record their conversations, which are transmitted to loudspeakers at either end of the gallery, and then modified and broadcast for all to hear.


You can see a video of the exhibit in action. It's in German, but Nowak's work speaks for itself. Just be sure to turn down the volume.