Rosa Aiello’s "Observer Data From Block 135 to 145 and 160 Rye Crescent" presents the perspective of a surveilling entity over 24 hours as it logs the activity of a single suburban residential block. The disembodied and diligent observer roams and ruminates like a ghost among the living. Its frighteningly fine-tuned sensors can, in fact, perceive smell, and access fantasy. The observer’s programs run, and its output indulges our curiosity, human and perverse, to not only know what goes on behind closed doors, but to peer into the internal lives of others without their knowing. The neighbourhood’s inhabitants are labeled by a coding system that identifies their family name, presenting gender, and role within a household, while the assumptions built into the code itself give some indication of the character of that which surveils. No eye is neutral: in reflection mode, the observer claims to feel and to suffer, and to note its own biases. In this short experimental work, Aiello skillfully and poetically explores themes of domesticity, privacy, voyeurism, and artificial intelligence as consciousness.
The book also includes three poems and a set of “Death Access Measures”—word games for the reader’s own fun of self-diagnosis.