At 2 pm on Sunday 28 July 2002, which happened to be the fourth anniversary of the group's crucial second performance, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (SCP-New York) performed God's Eyes Here on Earth underneath one of the 11 surveillance cameras installed and operated by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in Manhattan's Washington Square Park. The NYPD has recently claimed that, with the exception of these cameras and those in operation at the Lillian Wald Housing Project, they do not operate any surveillance cameras in public places. In a distressing symmetry, the total absence in the park of signs that warn the public about the presence of the police cameras is matched by the excessive numbers of such signs at Lillian Wald.
Several things were unusual about this five-minute-long performance:
-- it was staged as part of one of the SCP-New York's weekly walking tours of heavily surveilled neighborhoods in Manhattan, in this case, Washington Square Park. Though the group combined performances with walking tours on its recent tour of Germany, it has never done so before in America.
-- it was the first performance of God's Eyes Here on Earth since the group's tour of England to utilize the five printed placards around which performances of the play used to depend. (While on tour of Germany, the group got used to presenting the play as pantomimed action, without using the placards, because they were obviously "political" and not "artistic" and therefore, under German law, required a permit from the police.) To get around the fact that Washington Square isn't a church, the play's first two placards -- "Why are there cameras at the church?" and "Doesn't God see everything?" -- were replaced by a placard taken from Amnesia that has drawings of surveillance cameras and the phrase "All day, everywhere I go" printed upon it.
-- it was the very first SCP-New York event (performance or walking tour) ever to be interrupted by someone who wanted to denounce it and walk off angrily. The interruption took place during the walking tour, but it was never clear what irked the short Latino woman who, with her silent boyfriend just behind her, got right in front of Bill and pointed her finger at him. Was it the "blasphemy" of the performance? the references to the American flag during the walking tour? the simple presence of some asshole who thinks himself important enough to stand before a crowd of people and a TV camera and talk in a loud voice? Unfortunately, there wasn't much substance or sense in her remarks, and she wasn't interested in anything said in response.
-- it was videotaped by a cameraman sent by the news department of a local TV station, but he wasn't from the TV station that was supposed to send someone down! He wasn't from Channel 11 WPIX-TV, for whose convenience the two things (performance and walking tour) were combined in the first place. Nope, he was from Channel 7 WABC-TV, which, like Channel 5 Fox, had already recorded an SCP walking tour a few days earlier, on 25 July 2002. But unlike Fox, which managed to put its SCP piece on the air the day it was taped, Channel 7 needed to bump its piece to the following week and so had the time to get even more footage of the SCP in action. Also in attendance was a reporter from Timeout New York. (What's with all the news coverage these days? A high-profile article on the walking tours was published by the Associated Press on 25 July 2002.)
For this unusual performance, which was watched by about 30 people, the SCP-New York consisted of Bill, Miranda, Erika and new-comer Luci, who found out about the SCP-New York when she attended one of the walking tours. There were no problems at all with either the NYPD or the Parks Police.
Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998