Film stars of CCTV

With 20 per cent of the world's CCTV cameras located in Britain, we're clearly a nation under surveillance. Yet some artists are fighting back. Andrea Hubert takes a peep at the film-makers turning the tables on the world's biggest brother . . .

[...] It's this totalitarian police state mentality that has incensed artists and film-makers into fighting back, using art to probe a law designed to protect. Faceless is a new film by Austrian artist Manu Luksch of the media artist collective Ambient TV, who pioneered free wireless access in 2002, and it's compiled entirely from her own personal data. In this case, that means CCTV footage. Compiled over a period of five years, it follows the rules of her Dogme-esque CCTV manifesto, which states that no other cameras can be used to make a CCTV narrative and the ever-changing goalposts of the dense, often incomprehensible Data Protection Act of 1998.

Artists the world over are also doing their bit -- Mark Thomas, erstwhile comedian and self-styled libertarian anarchist was one of the inspirations behind Faceless, having exploited the DPA himself in a similar vein for his show the Mark Thomas Comedy Product in 2001. Since 1996, a group of anonymous New York based performance artists known only as the Surveillance Camera Players have voiced their protest by staging plays directly in front of CCTV cameras. This is probably a welcome diversion for the eyes behind the cameras, but no less subversive for its comedy value [...]

(Written by Andrea Hubert and published in the 13 October 2007 issue of The Guardian.)

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