Under Scan

Relational Architecture 11

Under Scan is an interactive video art installation for public space. In the work, passers-by are detected by a computerized tracking system, which activates video-portraits projected within their shadow. Over one thousand video-portraits of volunteers were taken in Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Northampton and Nottingham by a team of local filmmakers. For its London presentation in Trafalgar Square, Tate Modern filmed over 250 additional recordings. As people were free to portray themselves in whatever way they desired, a wide range of performances were captured. In the installation, the portraits appear at random locations. They "wake-up" and establish eye contact with a viewer as soon as his or her shadow "reveals" them. As the viewer walks away, the portrait reacts by looking away, and eventually disappears if no one activates it.

Every 7 minutes the entire project stops and resets. The tracking system is revealed in a brief "interlude" lighting sequence, which projects all of the calibration grids used by the computerized surveillance system.

The piece was inspired by representation en abîme, where the portrayed make eye-contact with the viewer, - as found in works by Jan Van Eyck, Parmigianino, Velázquez or Leon Golub. Other references for this work include the post-photographic device described in La invención de Morel, written by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1940) and the ghostly portraits created by Gary Hill, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Paul Sermon and Luc Courchesne.

General info

Spanish name:
Bajo Reconocimiento
Year of creation:

Indoor version

50 to 100 square meter coverage
3 Editions, 1 AP
private collector

Installation version

robotic projectors, media servers, Pani 12kW projectors, scissor lifts, computerized surveillance system, custom software
1,000 to 2,000 square meter coverage
1 Edition


5 Editions, 1 AP
private collectors


  • Under Scan, Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom, 2008.
  • Some Things Happen More Often Than All Of The Time, Mexican Pavilion, 52 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, 2007.
  • Under Scan, East Midlands Development Agency, Castle Wharf, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 2006.
    1. Public art commission.
  • Under Scan, East Midlands Development Agency, Market Square, Derby, United Kingdom, 2006.
    1. Public art commission.
  • Under Scan, East Midlands Development Agency, Humberstone Gate West, Leicester, United Kingdom, 2006.
    1. Public art commission.
  • Under Scan, East Midlands Development Agency, Brayford University Campus, Lincoln, United Kingdom, 2005.
    1. Public art commission.


  • Production Team, Antimodular (Montréal, Canada): Conroy Badger, Matthew Biederman, Natalie Bouchard, Olfa Driss, Ben Duffield, David Lemieux, Matthew Marino, Gideon May, Susie Ramsay
  • Stage Right Productions (Northampton UK): Kevin Roach (Director), Ian Brame (Technician), Eamonn Byrne (Technician), Gerry Coles (Technician)
  • ArtReach (Leicester and Maidenhead UK): David Hill (Director), Tom Bailey (Production Manager), Emma Jones and Poppy Muir (Project Manager), Carol Sutherland (Administrator), Aoife Daniels (Marketing and Project Administration)
  • Tate Modern and Tate Media Video Portrait Team: Marko Daniel (Public Programmes), Kelli Dipple (Intermedia Art Curator, Tate), Ayehsa Ghanchi, Tobias Ingels
  • Midlands Video Portrait Team: Jim Boxall, Steve Friendship, Matthew Humphreys, Rachel Jacobs, Sam Lindley, Juliet Preston, Lesley Stableford, Juliette Winter