Karen Garret de Luna


'Whoo?' is a CODE.lab project for CODE Live 2 and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. For more information including essays, press and links, please see the CODE.lab website


"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" ("Who watches the watchmen?") This question was posed by the Roman philosopher Juvenal in 2 AD and it is as important today as it was two millenia ago. Vancouver has seen a radical increase in surveillance in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 'Whoo?' was conceived to startle viewers into asking this very question for themselves.

The parliament of owls guarding code.lab headquarters at Emily Carr University highlights the ambiguous nature of watching. Outside we can watch the owls watching us, inside we can see from an owl's point of view what exactly he is looking at. However, can we be sure that the owls are the only ones watching? Are there any easy answers to the questions, "Who is observing? Who is being observed?"

'Whoo?', a whimsical installation of six plastic decoy owls, prompts viewers to critically question the wisdom of allowing themselves to be passively observed by surveillance cameras. Without knowing exactly who is watching or why, is it safe to allow anonymous cameras to continually gather information about our whereabouts? Does entering a public space equate to granting consent to be spied upon?

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who who?)
I really want to know (Who are you? Who, who, who who?)

The Who from the album 'Who Are You' (1978)


essay: Bird Brains
owl trivia: Birds of a Feather
owl camera deconstructed: Bird's Eye P.O.V.'