interview with Surveillance Camera Players

Q: What were your intentions when starting the group?

A: To make a prank or political joke.

Q: What kind of people participate?

A: Situationist-inspired artists.

Q: If you should explain what you're doing and why you are doing it, what would you reply?

A: We are unconditionally opposed to all surveillance devices in public places because it violates a basic human right: the right to privacy.

Q: Most people aren't even aware of the increasing surveillance of public space, or if they're, they're in favour for it like "...surveillance helps to get the city safer...". Do you think groups like SCP can open their eyes?

A: Yes, hopefully.

Q: Are you acting against unmarked surveillance cameras only?

A: No all of them.

Q: You're website is part of What is "Not Bored!" ? What's the connection between SCP and "Not bored!"?

A: NOT BORED! is the name of a situationist-inspired fanzine published since 1983. There is an overlap of personnel between the two groups.

Q: You've toured Germany lately. Do you see differences between surveillance in the USA and Europe?

A: Yes. In Germany, the cameras are just starting to be installed. In America, they are being installed in large numbers. In England, the country is already covered with them.

Q: Did you get responses in any way? Did you get in trouble with local authorities? Any interesting stories to report?

A: Read through this for answers concerning Germany trip.

Q: Are there SCP outside NY or the States. Are they independent or are you in some way connected to each other?

A: Totally independent groups in Arizona (USA), Bologna, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and somewhere in Lithuania.

Q: If someone wants to form a SCP group what does she/he has to do, what has she/he be aware of?

A: Don't smash or physically damage any cameras. it isn't necessary.

Q: Did you ever have problems with authorities or have members of any SCP group have been sentenced?

A: No.

Q: Really? No problems with police forces or private security trying to stop you from performing?

A: Well, yes, when we first started out, the police used to stop each and every performance. Security guards are still trying to do this, still call the police on us. But the police's attitude has definitely changed. Now they are used to us and know exactly who we are and what we stand for. Because what we are doing is completely legal, they can do absolutely nothing to stop us.

Q: SCP videos have also been exhibited in museums all over the world. Do you think exhibiting in museums is a way to attract more (different) people, instead of just acting on a street level?

A: Yes, but artists are mostly apolitical idiots, so showing SCP videos in museums has no effect at all.

Q: Do you see yourself as artists?

A: No!!!!

Q: You do surveillance camera walking tours in NY. Can you tell us some more about how they work?

A: See this text.

Q: Do you map out surveillance cameras only for NY (the states) or do you also try to map them worldwide?

A: No, only in NYC, because that is where I (the map-maker lives).

Q: Do you have an idea, who installed the most surveillance cameras in NY?

A: The banks.

Q: What happens to the data taped? How long is it legal to preserve recorded video data of surveillance cameras in the USA?

A: There are no laws on these subjects, so the banks can do whatever they like, no matter how horrible.

Q: Your website has been visited by a broad range of foreign governments, united states government departments and united states military. Do you know the purpose of their visit, or could you guess?

A: No, I don't know why they are visiting.

Q: Have you ever been victims of hacking, denial-of-service attacks or other criminal activities? Did you ever get a "response" from the government?

A: No.

Q: Are you exposed to a lot of hate mail?

A: We get our share.

Q: How was/is the media coverage in the US about the war in Afghanistan? Is it getting harder for the media in the US to do a critical coverage nowadays?

A: The US mainstream media is thoroughly complicit in the war and denying its real purposes, effects and causes.

Q: Has there been a change in the way the US government and/or the US army deals with political groups like the SCP after September 11th?

A: Yes: increased surveillance, denial of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, obviously false denials that they operate cameras in public.

Q: Is the US government now trying to treat political groups equivalent to terrorist groups more than before?

A: Yes.

Q: In which way are they being treated equal?

A: Former FBI Director Louis Freeh actually had the nerve or stupidity to say in front of Congress that "Reclaims the Streets" and the "Carnival Against Capitalism" (actions not groups, mind you) are "domestic terrorists." During the protests against the World Economic Forum in NYC in late January 2002, the newspapers were full of stupid comparisons between "violent" protesters (smashing a window isn't violence, not even under US Law) and Al Qaeda terrorists.

Q: Does this treatment has an effect on the work of SCP, yet?

A: Look at this and see for yourself. The CIA just visited the website for the second time, just a few days ago.

Q: Is it harder after September 11th to persuade people that surveillance cameras doesn't equal more security?

A: No, it is easier: not one camera at the World Trade Center did its job: keep people safe. Also the papers are filled with reports on the incompetence on the FBI, CIA, NSA etc to prevent or detect the attacks in advance.

Q: But other attempts to restrict to the right to privacy under the mantle of fighting terrorism are surely not as easy to fight against? Is there an on growing fear of terrorist attacks in the USA, which makes vast parts of the population want to renounce rights to privacy, if as a result the possibility of terrorist attacks would decrease?

A: As in the very recent case of the "dirty bomb," the public is clearly being manipulated, being constantly fed stories designed to make them afraid. People are beginning to smell a rat, beginning to suspect they are being lied to and manipulated. If this keeps up, Bush will *not* be re-elected.

Q: Are there attempts in the USA to restrict privacy and civil rights, mantled in an attempt to protect the USA against terrorist attacks?

A: Every week there is a new attempt to do so: laws, decrees, threats etc.

Q: Do you see the work of SCP involved into a larger concept of being aware of and fighting against the restriction of rights to privacy?

A: Yes, absolutely. Surveillance cameras are simply the most visible aspect of privacy rights-violations.

Q: Do you act against other restrictions like e.g. the monitoring of telephones, too?

A: No, we can't do everything.

(Interview with Bill Brown conducted by e-mail by Jan Wolf and published in the 17 June 2002 issue of Enough Fanzine.)

Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail

NY Surveillance Camera Players