NY artist designs anti-surveillance burqas as part of clothing line

A piece from Harvey's anti-drone line
A piece from Harvey’s anti-drone line.
Credit: Adam Harvey

As George Orwell’s darkest fantasies about state surveillance continue to come true, many of us feel powerless.

Enter New York-based artist Adam Harvey with his range of “Stealth Wear” clothing, including a burqa design, integrating metallic fibers to throw off drone cameras and infrared sensors.

Metro: How much cover do you think your designs could offer the wearer?

Harvey: I want to provide enough cover to prove that the concept works, yet not so much that I’m raising red flags. They could offer more. However, engineering a complete thermal cloak would be difficult since heat must be transferred somewhere, not only reflected. This kind of camouflage will become increasingly important as thermal cameras become an integral part of mainstream surveillance ecosystems.

Did you worry at all about trivializing drones, given the damage they do in places like Pakistan?

This work is meant to serve the interests of anyone living in an environment where drones are used. Having the ability to control or reduce your thermal signature can empower the wearer. My only concern in designing the burqa was that it was a revision of a religious garment.

Who do you see as potential buyers for such products? Would you sell them in Pakistan?

Yes, hopefully anyone anywhere drones are used. Of course, to become more effective, the prices should be lower. I hope that by introducing the concept other designers will take my ideas and make them better, more accessible.

Do you feel this is unique or are you part of a wider movement for anti-surveillance clothing?

There’s a big movement that’s growing everyday. For example, privacy design and counter-surveillance classes are now offered in school, including at New York University.


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