Smart devices assist us in the home and office, cameras register movements and algorithms determine information flows. The influence of technology on everyday life is ever increasing. The exhibition Private_Eye_Butler_Spy at Arcam examines the changing relationship between technology and humans, and the impact of technology in and on the built environment.


Appliances in and around the house are becoming increasingly intelligent. Instead of a house key, access systems use biometric data to determine if a door should open. In the city, cars with scanners check whether parking fees have been paid, while sensors register the amount of traffic or the air quality. The relationship between humans and buildings, technology and surroundings, is growing more complex. Yet this is not new. The remote control has been around since 1898 and ‘wireless messaging’ has been used since the invention of the radio. In the 20th century, numerous inventions appeared that have made our lives easier—the electric light, the computer, and the internet.

What is new, is that once a specific scientific or military application finds its way into a product suitable for mass consumption, all these inventions not only cater to convenience but also gather information. New ‘smart’ technology is moving beyond technical or societal progress to (also) become a paid service—through money or personal information (or both).

The relationship between technology, society, and habitation has always inspired designers. In the exhibition Private_Eye_Butler_Spy, we look back and gaze ahead, through the themes ‘Human//Machine’, ‘Smart Spatial Manifestations’, ‘Privacy and Ethics’, and ‘Signal Not Found’, we explore which ethical issues and design tasks this high-tech future entails.

Exhibition partners

Exhibition Design
Hanna Rudner, creatively supported by [impromptu] team: Allard Meijer, Andreea Pirvan, Clara Beckers, Diana Dungyova, Hadrien Cassan, Hanna Rudner, Hannah Sheerin, Jesse Verdoes, Kaj Boonstra, Kat Bruh, Kim Sinnige, Pascal Henle, Pepijn Determann, Ron Barten.

Graphic design
Hanna Rudner, Andreea Privan

With contribution by
Allard Meijer, Carla Alcalà Badias, Elisa Giaccardi, Hanna Rudner, Iohanna Nicenboim, Jana Culek, Jonas Hejduk, Koen Verheijden, Kuba Jekiel, Paul Kuipers, Paul van den Bergh, AI Space Factory, Autodesk, Benthem Crouwel Architects, Coornhert Gymnasium, Dam & Partners, Dutch Datacenter Association, Equinix, gemeente Amsterdam, AMS Institute, Responsible Sensing Lab, Iconic Houses, iuppiter, MX3D, NEMO Science Museum, Scrap XL, Canadian Center for Architecture, The Henry Ford Museum, The Incredible Machine, Thingscon, Ugo la Pietra archief, UNSense, UNStudio, Waterschap Amstel Gooi en Vecht/Waternet, Woven Studio.

With financial support by
Gemeente Amsterdam, Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunsten

Website by HOAX Amsterdam