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DANGER DIRTY DATA: A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM

IN HER COMBINATION of obsessive paranoia and tenacious social science, Julia Scher evokes a female Harry Caul (antihero of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film The Conversation) with a weathered copy of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish under her arm. A typical, quietly disturbing installation, Predictive Engineering, 1993, involves video cameras, both hidden and visible, that feed monitors hovering over the gallery space; hapless viewers are multiply scrutinized—by the cameras, other gallery-goers, themselves, and, by implication, some sinister omniscient database. This endless mirroring is occasionally jammed by disruptive prerecorded images—naked women fighting in the gallery, a guard with a dog—and by surreal “status updates” rendered in declamatory san serif caps: “DATA HARVESTING. CONTROL SEIZURES . . . ON NOW.” Although Scher and her “staff” may patrol the space clad in kitschy,

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