The long arm of the law…
I saw a film about the Surveillance Camera Players in New York, and it made me want to do a photo essay on surveillance. They’re a group that performs silent plays of 1984 in front of surveillance cameras in New York City. They sometimes hold pieces of cardboard with title screens, and the idea is to get through the whole play before they get interrupted. Naturally, the security guards always manage to come out, break up the play, and threaten to arrest the actors before they get to any of the scenes where Winston begins having revelations about the State.
This shot was from the side of a school in Colombia Heights, but it could have been anywhere. Like Helvetica, surveillance cameras have become so commonplace that no one seems to give them much thought or question their meaning. There have been countless studies showing that surveillance cameras, rather than helping to reduce crime, have led to a lot more cases of mistaken identity. Recall the Brazilian traveler in London who was gunned down by the police after being mistakenly identified as the subway bomber on some CCTV footage. Are these cameras really there for our safety?
Anyways, I liked the shadow from this picture so much that I decided to use it for a silhouette instead. To me, it represents the mechanical power of the state jabbing its finger into your eye. To others, it’s just a boring picture of a security camera. You can decide for yourself.