The SUICIDE BOX is one of our earliest information devices and demonstrates some of the strategies the Bureau has been developing around information.
The Suicide Box is a motion-detection video system, positioned in range of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco in 1996. It watched the bridge constantly and when it recognised vertical motion, captured it to a video record. The resulting footage displays as a continuous stream the trickle of people who jump off the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is the premiere suicide destination in the United States: a 100 day initial deployment period of the BIT Suicide Box recorded 17 vertical events (during the same time period the Port Authority counted only 13).
In 1996, the Bureau released the video documentary “Suicide Box”, documenting the deployment. When the video was exhibited at the 1997 Whitney Biennial of American Art (1997), the curatorial essay identified it as an imaginative work, “a seemingly factual documentary using a combination of real and fictionalised statistics and staged surveillance footage to create something utterly convincing .. completely plausible”. A curatorial response implying not only the fictional nature of the BIT camera equipment, but also of the tragic information field in which it was operating. This review expresses a recurrent theme in artworld reaction to Bureau practice - the inherent suspicion of artists working with material evidence.
That is a really interesting idea, but is also quite insightful as a complete project. Power of information/ manipulation of information