As drones, facial recognition technology, and cellphone snooping are starting to affect the broader culture, the New York-based artist Adam Harvey has designed a line of high-tech garments made with sophisticated fabrics that can block signals and thwart cameras.
Set to launch next week in London as part of a collaborative project with fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, Harvey’s line of “Stealth Wear” clothing includes an “anti-drone hoodie” that uses metalized material designed to counter thermal imaging used by drones to spot people on the ground. He’s also created a cellphone pouch made of a special “signal attenuating fabric.” The pocket blocks your phone signal so that it can’t be tracked or intercepted by devices like the covert “Stingray” tool used by law enforcement agencies like the FBI. And if that’s not enough, Harvey has also made what he calls an “XX-Shirt,” which uses material designed to “protect your heart from X-ray radiation.”
The clothing is primarily intended to spark a dialogue about the rapid advance of surveillance across society. Though they are pieces of concept art, at the same time they do have a genuine practical use and are being manufactured for public sale. Harvey hasn’t pinned down exactly what the cost of the garments will be yet—and he admits they’re not likely to be cheap, due to the expensive materials involved. But it doesn’t take a genius to predict that activists and other privacy-conscious individuals will be among his first customers. The “fashionably paranoid market” is his target demographic, Harvey jokes.