Projects/ 40.000 Homes and a Sense of Security

40.000 Homes and a Sense of Security

From Connecting to Watching

Evidently, postal service was – and perhaps still is – one of the few public services where central governments touch everyday lives of almost every single citizen on a daily basis, reasonably aiding the formation of a nation. Throughout history the postal service has been instrumental in this – the Roman Empire used its messenger routes to ‘knit’ its empire, and its postal routes were utilised as military infrastructure. Despite the word “post” in its name, de Grote Postweg, built in Java during Daendels’ rule as a governor-general of East Indies, was mainly used for transportation and logistics intended for militaristic purposes.

Regardless of the rapid decline, the ever-presence of postal services is still relevant. While PostNL plans to cut down the number of postboxes from 19,000 to 10,000 in the next few years, they are also aware of the fact that with their deliverers, they are still present in every street in the Netherlands, every day. Thus, in its struggle to find new niche in a world that is quickly becoming virtual, they brought up a thought-provoking pilot in Schiedam in 2015. In this pilot, their mail deliverers would observe such things as graffiti and litter in public spaces, and report this to the municipality.

In 40,000 Homes and a Sense of Security she discloses the traces of these diminishing postal routes that physically connect the globalising governments with her, in person, where things travel in between, going from hand to hand in the process, perhaps sorted in the deliverers' homes, all the way to her own temporary home in Amsterdam.

Through this installation and its technique, Wulia states how fingerprinting could have an aura of misconduct around it. Although it is scientifically proven that little children’s fingerprints would not be imprinted for too long because of the different type of sebum they carry, angry mothers who regularly need to clean up windows dirtied by their five-year olds might argue otherwise. On the other hand, for many, fingerprinting works as having a mugshot taken after someone has been arrested by the police, and it is demeaning.

When Wulia applied for her Schengen Visa, however, she had to agree to a fingerprinting request. Without any accompanying explanation, she just assumed that, by agreeing, she was helping the world’s judicial system to insure security. But how far does fingerprinting really protect or harm us?