An Obscure Camera | Artist in Residence

Inspace Artist Residency 17-21 June 2024


We are delighted to announce Nic Sandiland, artist and co-founder of creative production company Flexer&Sandiland, as our Inspace Artist-in-Residence this June. The focus of Sandiland’s residency will be on An Obscure Camera, an immersive participatory light installation, incorporating a live camera feed, to explore notions of ‘following’, ‘public space’, ‘the everyday’ and the ‘camera’s gaze’.


First staged in Brighton Dome in 2023 as work in progress, during this residency in Inspace, Sandiland will explore collaborations and connections with researchers at the Institue for Design Informatics and the University’s wider community, to further develop this concept and prototype, towards a subsequent public launch later this year.


Sandiland’s work will pose a number of questions to the audience which will be further developed as the residency progresses and he notes of the AI:

‘It is a pleasure to have InSpace host and facilitate the ongoing development of An Obscure Camera. Not only does this help further develop our universites partnership, but it also provides a much-needed hub for transdisciplinary collaboration, drawing together expertise from the arts, technology, academic and cultural networks in a versatile and accommodating environment.’

Nic Sandiland

At the heart of this work is a sense of liveness, liveliness and embodiment, explored by Sandiland by inviting visitors and viewers to participate in and interact with a live video feed, from the street right outside of Inspace, capturing passersby as they go about their daily activities. This live feed Sandiland playfully masks to create ‘portholes’ which allow the underlying image of the street scene to show through at various points, enabling installation viewers to choose to reveal any part of the projection they find interesting, and to reflect on what they choose to follow and what it feels like to do so.


The intention of this work is to encourage members of the public to take a more critical perspective on the use and processing of their data in public contexts, potentially providing significant benefits to their ongoing understanding and engagement with other forms of public surveillance.


This Artist-in-Residence is supported by Middelsex University and the Institute for Design Informatics

Important notice: This work involves the temporary installation of a street facing camera in the window of Inspace, which captures a live feed of passersby. Footage from this camera feed is being used as the input for the installation but none of the data is recorded or stored

Access the Data Protection Impact and Legitimate Interest Assessments here for more information. If you have any feedback, questions or concerns about his project, please email:



An Obscure Camera 

Conceived and Created by Nic Sandiland


The fascination with Camera Obscura has captured audience imagination drawing people worldwide from Victorian times to present day. The spectacle of entering a dark room through which to witness and actively peer out to the surrounding landscape is both theatrically enticing and technically mysterious. An Obscure Camera develops this form for a 21st-century context through a physically interactive installation.


We enter a large dark space and are immersed by a multitude of ornate Rococo frames projected onto the surrounding walls. Each frame contains a close-up view of the live outdoor environment outside of the building. As we walk around, the frames move with us, matching our speed and direction. New subjects enter and pass through the frames as our viewpoint changes. We can scan, track, and follow different features in the outdoor spaces, including its inhabitants, through our motion within the space.


Visitors are given the agency to physically enact the choices made by ubiquitous AI algorithms that observe, scrutinise, and categorise our every move.


In contrast to the minimal actions of clicking a mouse or pressing a key, a participant has to move their whole body through the installation in order to ‘follow’ those outside. This way, participants not only ‘embody the AI’, but are confronted, first-hand, with the associated ethical and social implications of their choices/actions.

About the Artist


Nic Sandiland is a UK based artist working across installation, performance, and film.
Through his work, Nic seeks to re-enliven the body, revisiting and revaluing the viewer’s actions through their innate physical presence. To do this, his work has drawn on cinematic techniques such as slow motion and moving camera mechanisms and, more recently, machine vision, LiDAR, and robotics.


Nic has made work in London, Europe and Southeast Asia and has presented at theatres, art galleries, and many unusual venues. His film work has been shown worldwide and has been broadcast on UK TV (Channel 4).

His work has been commissioned by organisations such as: the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Arts Centre, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and The Brighton Festival and he is a regular collaborator with choreographers Yael Flexer and Rosemary Lee.


He has also worked as an interactive technology designer with: Station House Opera, Blast Theory, Gary Stevens and Imogen Stidworthy. He is also a producer and editor for Extant Theatre, the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners.


Nic has taught workshops on digital technology and dance around the World including: Bangalore, India and Seoul, South Korea. He also taught video production for 10 years at London Contemporary Dance School (MA dance for camera) and is currently a senior lecturer in fine art at Middlesex University. In 2022 Nic completed his PhD on agency within interactive installation.


To find out more about Sandilands’ work visit

Image Credit: An Obscure Camera by Nic Sandiland.