"We are here in the middle of the city, standing still and in a circle: these things make us of interest to the people who are watching us on surveillance cameras," Bill Brown explains. The ESC group, which is named after the "escape" key, sponsored this walking tour. Together with Sean Kirby, another member of the New York Surveillance Camera Players with whom Brown took a few hours to discover 50 surveillance cameras operated by the police and private authorities in Graz's center, he offered a walking tour that described the cameras' locations and functions.
Brown and Kerby doubt that surveillance cameras have anything to do with security. "Our question is: Why aren't the cameras labeled or marked?" Their experience in New York, where they have been appearing for years, is that street crime isn't significantly reduced and that, on the contrary, the cameras are used according to arbitrary and racist criteria, such as skin or hair color. And [Brown and Kerby] also don't believe that cameras deter criminal offenses: "A camera can't intervene, and the location of the police [watching] may not be close by." They believe that the cameras reinforce social control and self-control. "One usually associates surveillance cameras with very right-wing or totalitarian states; for example, the Stasi loved such systems. But, after 1989, this scepticism of surveillance -- at least in official places -- has become muted."
For the Surveillance Camera Players, web-cams herald a new generation of surveillance cameras: more and more, analogue video recorders are being replaced by digital databanks of images that, in a few seconds, can be searched for a variety of parameters [...]
(By Friedrich Tietjen, published in 30 October 2002 edition of Orf: Kultur and translated from the German by Bill Brown.)
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998