On the surface, the latest work by Italian artist Valentina Loffredo is just the sort of creative whimsy Hong Kong needs. Titled “Nosy”, the bold and colourful multimedia project in Loffredo’s signature geometric style features photographs, sculptural objects, installations and a limited-edition book, with noses as the central theme. But Loffredo says that while the images bring much-needed light relief, they carry a darker message about privacy in an age of surveillance. “I wanted to show the sinister side of technology, how we use our devices to invade people’s privacy by sticking our noses into places where they’re not wanted,” says Loffredo, adding that the project was a collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in Hong Kong. “By making the nose the symbol of online and offline surveillance tools such as CCTV with facial recognition technologies, smart objects and http cookies, the series mimics the seductive power of technology, represented by the playful and attractive appearance of the artworks.” The show is not just restricted to the Novalis Contemporary Art Design gallery, in Wan Chai, where it runs until the end of the month. Loffredo is also placing 200 sculptural noses in public spaces, restaurants and bars around Hong Kong, mainly in Wan Chai district. “The ad hoc placement of these ‘nosy’ sculptures is another way to show how technology allows people to stick their noses into other people’s business,” says Loffredo, who used clay, resin, silicon and other materials to create the silly snouts. “My husband’s nose was used as a cast for one shape.” Curator Luca Panaro says the exhibition’s message is important in an age when people invite digital media into every aspect of their lives without considering the consequences. “The excitement produced by the irresistible pull of technology leaves us in a dazed state, blurring the distance between public and private,” he says. Ironically, social media helped Loffredo gain recognition when she started experimenting with photography in 2013, posting on Instagram under the handle @thatsval, leading to solo exhibitions in Hong Kong and Milan. “Nosy” is showing at the Novalis Contemporary Art Design gallery until November 30.