Our study focuses on the harsh surveillance tactics used by the Israeli government in the Old City of Akka as well as other occupied Palestinian territories. The Israeli CCTV cameras capture mostly Palestinian faces through facial recognition software. Palestinian residents of Akka as well as other cities, have to cover a significant part of their faces to prevent them from being watched every moment when they are in a public space. Inspired by the FACE DETECTED project Collared with Matthijs De Block, our project generates face mask designs as a proposition while incorporating visitor interaction to develop a more intuitive and insightful understanding of what it might be like to be under watch constantly.
Our own designed filters affect the cameras, hopefully as a form of defence against the systems of surveillance. For now, this virtual intervention can be used by residents online, and physical masks can be worn on-site during a protest in the streets of Akka. The stone textures of the mask, extracted from photogrammetry models of the stone elevations mapped during the fieldwork, allow the body of the protestor or user to glitch and become one with the architecture. This camouflage protects the user's identity. The design process and virtual mask filters are presented as part of a film that also provides context on the systems of surveillance implemented by private Israeli companies as well as the government itself against the Palestinian residents.
The design concept of the mask is based on the walls of the old city of Akka, where, despite the demographic and social changes, these ancient buildings and urban textures are witnesses and chroniclers of history. Through a series of masks of different wall textures, wall repair and construction techniques have changed over time, which in turn reflects the gentrification process that is taking place. More importantly, wall masks can act as the most natural protective colour for the Palestinian people, and when people wear masks in the urban area, they will be integrated with the built environment to a large extent, thus avoiding "surveillance" to a greater extent.