"Paranoid people are not rational. . ."

The New York-based Surveillance Camera Players perform theater pieces for surveillance cameras

The SCP perform old plays in front of new surveillance cameras. An abridged version of Waiting for Godot performed in front of a camera in the subway; Orwell's 1984 performed in front of a webcam in Times Square. The New York-based group says that it performs theater pieces to entertain the surveillants. Really? An interview with their leader, Bill Brown.

Q. What do the SCP do?

A. We perform theater pieces in front of surveillance cameras. So that they can see us, we hold up large, hand-made placards that have dialogue written on them, and there is some pantomime as well. Because the surveillance cameras cannot record sound.

Q. What's wrong with surveillance cameras?

A. The use of surveillance cameras by the police [in public places] is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution. That was decided by the Supreme Court in a 1967 ruling.

Q. Nevertheless, they have been accepted, and the crime rate in New York has in the last few years gone down.

A. Crime went down in New York because the Mayor had many poor people arrested. The City and the police want to use the cameras to watch political protests. As an example, the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral: there is no crime there, but many people protest there against the politics of the Catholic Church. And so many people have been photographed by very modern digital surveillance cameras.

Q. You've said that your target group is the person who sits and watches the surveillance monitor. Why all this effort for one person?

A. Our real target group are the people who see us on the street. In New York, there are a lot of people and we only perform in very well populated areas. It was a joke when we said that we perform to entertain bored security guards and police officers. Fuck them!

Q. What effect on the public do you wish to have?

A. We want to disrupt people's everyday routines and show them that there is no reason to be intimidated by surveillance cameras.

Interview conducted and translated into German by Tilman Baumgartel. Originally published by Berlin Online on 8 February 2001. Translated back into English by Bill Brown.

Contact the Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail e-mail:notbored@NOSPAMoptonline.net

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

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