My current project, "Observation Devices", invokes the name of the Chicago Police Department’s surveillance cameras. These cameras are called Police Observation Devices. They are part of Operation Virtual Shield, one of the largest networks of surveillance infrastructure in the world. When plans for this network were unveiled, Mayor Richard Daley declared it was the city’s goal to have “a camera on every corner.”

This panoptic ambition assures a total picture of Chicago.

"Observation Devices" is an expansion and critique of Operation Virtual Shield. Its intention is to decenter the picture of the public generated by and for the Chicago Police Department.

"Observation Devices" is a growing collection. It is a single work made up of many elements. It includes drawings made from direct observation, rubbings, wood sculptures, 3D scans, 3D prints, 35mm slide photographs, community-engaged drawing events, walks and text. These elements, different artistic disciplines, are different ways of seeing the world. All elements depict fragments of public space and public infrastructure in and around Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, where I currently reside.

A total picture of Chicago is a possibility I refuse. Observation has limits and always leaves some things unseen. Instead, this project works toward a broader, deeper picture. Chicago’s surveillance infrastructure demonstrates the Chicago Police Department's belief that visual observation of public space has power. My work is an attempt to reclaim some of this power. With "Observation Devices" I hope to demonstrate ways that observation can foster intimacy, connection, curiosity and a more complex understanding of the public and public space.



Dylan Cale Jones earned his MFA from Southern Methodist University in 2015. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in 2011. He lives and works in Chicago, IL.  Dylan Cale Jones is represented by Galleri Urbane Dallas/Marfa.