It's OK, Officer!

Bill Brown, co-founder of the SCP, and Sean Kerby, also an SCP member, greet us with hand-made maps of Graz's inner city. The locations of the surveillance cameras, which they themselves have discovered, are indicated. We become aware that, in these moments, we should stop being flashy or "suspicious." Simply by standing together in a closed group in a public place is suspicious. Sounds plausible. "In a capitalistic society, everything has to move," Bill Brown says. Know this as well: in the western world, simply standing around and looking will immediately be seen as suspicious and will no longer be allowed. "Doesn't he or she have anything to do?" You should at least be smoking a cigarette or looking at your watch, as if waiting for something. . . .

A short introduction to the various camera types: 1st Generation: these are the oldest cameras, and they were invented by the German post office in 1938. Their form makes them easy to recognize. There are fixed in position, and so they always have a "brother" or even "brothers and sisters" that cover their respective blind spots. Complete camera-families! 2d Generation: these are technologically more mature. In Graz, the SCP only found two such cameras. These cameras are very small. They look like lamps or are otherwise hidden from sight, and can revolve 360 degrees around. They were originally invented by the U.S. military and were first installed in the early 1990s in the USA.

The first surveillance camera on the walking tour is in the Jakominiplatz. As a traffic traffic, it watches the cars on the Joanneum Ring. But it is unclear why this camera points in the direction of the Jakominiplatz, where there are no cars, on Fridays and Saturdays, when lots of young people are hanging around there. "Function creep" is what the SCP call this phenomenon, when a camera is installed for a specific purpose and then used later for other purposes.

Then the tour visits the Hammerling Gasse. There, in the automobile entrance to the City Archives, one finds a gate and a camera on the wall. What was criticized wasn't the installation of a camera in a private place, but the fact that this particular camera was positioned so that it was also surveilling the street -- a public place. OK. I know from my days as a museum supervisor the details you can zoom in on and see with one of these cameras.

Oskar, the mascot of the Hirth Hair Salon, which is located on the Herren Gasse, has got his own camera. The police can supposedly be there in only five minutes if someone gets too close to the Stone Man. The SCP put a "You are being surveilled" sticker on him. Three hours later, the sticker was gone.

At the end of the tour, there's a small tip: if you're near a camera and a small red light is on, look sharp [you are being recorded]. And there's also a teeny-weeny performance of It's OK, Officer, adapted for performance in Graz by Bill and Sean.

(Written by Hedi, published in the 30 October 2002 edition of Orf: FM4 and translated from the German by Bill Brown.)

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