Surveillance Art

Concerned about the proliferation of security cameras over the course of the 1990s, a group of artists formed the Surveillance Camera Players to protest the erosion of privacy. The troupe works to raise public awareness of civil liberties issues through a series of short, semi-absurdist, performance pieces that point out the locations of cameras while exploring the nature of technology and security.

The group performs for two audiences: passersby and the cameras themselves. For the former, members hope to make people question the ubiquity of surveillance and their own, often tacit, readiness to accept it. The latter audience experiences a more complex work. From the point of view of the camera, the activities reveal a wider range of emotions and responses, ranging from frustration and quiet rage to mockery and a dadaist embrace of chaos, from complete rejection of technology to a playful faith. On their own merits, the plays range from clever satire (such as a "camera as God" piece) to more blunt, simplistic protests (essentially someone waving a placard with one hand while pointing to a camera with the other).

(Written by Shae Davidson and posted to Creative Synthesis on 2 January 2008.)

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

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