already in progress
Our Contribution to the IDAVS

At noon on Monday 20 March 2006, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) performed Something Interesting in front of a privately owned webcam that is installed in the middle of Times Square. This performance -- plus a walking tour, held the previous day -- was the SCP's contribution to the 2006 International Day Against Video Surveillance (IDAVS), which the group helped coordinate.

The SCP has been performing in front of this particular webcam -- it is stuck right in people's faces, and so invades their privacy -- for more than five years. Over the course of those years, the SCP has been, with a few scattered exceptions, the only group to do so. But the times have changed: whereas the webcam used to be a hot consumer item to have in one's home, so as to transmit private moments to virtual tourists (Grandma gets to see the baby, paying customers get to see Jennycam, etc.), now the webcam is a hot item for real tourists to make use of while they are out in public, so as to transmit public moments -- "I'm in Times Square!" -- to family/friends and all the virtual-voyeurs who happen to be watching at the moment.

What caused this change, which, as far as we know, has not been reported or documented by the either the independent or the mainstream media? The cell phone. To a person, each one of these New Webcam Performers has a cellphone. "Can you see me now?" each asks the folks back home, who are watching on their Internet-connected computers. "Yes, I can see you; I can see you waving and holding up the brochure from your hotel. . . ." Despite the poverty of their plays, these performing tourists are far more technologically sophisticated than the members of the SCP, who have never used a cell phone to coordinate or facillitate one of their performances.[1]

Fittingly, perhaps, this was the first time that the SCP had to stage its performance so that it didn't interfere with or interrupt the other "performances" that were already in progress when the group arrived in front of the webcam (next to the 47th Street Digital Camera store). The SCP managed to do this by standing alongside the other "performers," rather than standing in front of them, which created a juxtaposition or montage, and not a sequence or alternation. Though the content of the play that the SCP was performing might have been taken as insulting to the tourists or at least to their very uninteresting webcam performances ("Hi, Mom!"), they were happy to join the SCP, even to the point of holding up some of the group's placards and bowing to the camera at the end of the performance.

For this seven-minute-long performance (two complete repetitions of the play), the SCP was composed of Bill and Kava; Susan at work in NYC and Kristin on vacation in Texas took screen-shots. There were no problems with police officers or security guards.

[1] The only reason this remains the case is that, at 5:30 pm on Sunday 19 March 2006, certain people in Cincinnati failed to do any of what they'd announced to the world that they were going to do: appear in front of a publically installed and remote-controled webcam, and stay in contact by cell phone with New York, where two members of the SCP were using two separate computers to keep the webcam focused on the right spot. No performance, no cell phone call, nothing. When Kava returns to Cincinnati, she and Bill will try it again.

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998