Art

David Wills

Work

Lurker

Under the superficial guise of fashion, Lurker stalks the streets in search of new cover images for a non-existant magazine. Originally started as a response to a growing anxiety around street photography, Lurker is interested in privacy and celebrates individuality.

Started in 2003, Lurker was originally a response to an increase in surveillance post 9/11. Back then, a paranoia existed. On the street people were wary of photographers who were suddenly considered to have sinister motives as they photographed shadows on walls or tar markings on streets.

In privately-owned shopping malls security was tightened, and in some, photography was banned. Naively, I was interested in why creative freedom was being curtailed and what these mall owners had to fear.

It was a time before smart phone saturation, social media was in its infancy and blogs were the go to source of information and entertainment. Stalking was still thought of as rude.

I have rules: people enter into my field of vision, I don’t follow anyone and I take a maximum of four shots anonymously before continuing on my way. As quickly as our paths cross they diverge. In a few moments the photographic process is complete, in full public view with few people, if anyone, noticing.

The resulting archive is as nuanced as our society. It asks who is the lurker? Is it me? Is it you? Is it the unknown person in the photograph? In the end, it asks what do we really know about who is tracking us? When our homes have been infiltrated by listening devices, every move tracked on our phones, and every website visited recorded, surveillance is the least of our worries. Or is it?

It’s now 2023. Somewhere in the intervening years, we’ve completely lost our right to privacy, photography has changed profoundly, and we have a new horror dawning, AI.

“David Wills is also compelled by strangers he sees on the street. Some of the people he notices, who have a particular hunch of the back, or a particular slouching gait, he collects with his camera, usually rather furtively from behind. He then turns them into the cover shots of a fictional magazine he has created, called with cheeky but still ominous and slightly creepy irony: Lurker.”

Martyn Jolly

From the Parade: Manufacturing Selves exhibition catalogue.

Lurker is an ongoing project commenced in 2003. All covers are pigment prints and are available to purchase in limited editions. Send an email using the form in the footer for details.

Lurker has been exhibited as part of the Wearables As Media, exhibition at 
Koo Ming Kown Exhibition Gallery
, Hong Kong, 2011; at Clickspace
 in Newcastle, 2011; and in Parade: Manufacturing Selves, as part of the Vivid National Photography Festival
 in Canberra, 2008.

There are over one thousand covers to date. Many typologies have emerged over the course of the project including: double denim; wired for sound; in uniform; pretty in pink; ladies in red; dog walkers; and all black to name just some.

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