New York blues: Is the Big Apple losing its creative touch?

[...] Resistance is also the central theme of We Know You Are Watching (Factory School), a collection of essays, maps and scripts documenting the work of one of New York's most consistently alert and imaginatively disruptive organisations, the Surveillance Camera Players. For over a decade, this witty group, led by Bill Brown, has monitored the onward creep of privately- and police-funded CCTV cameras within the city, so that a place long celebrated for its ability to offer the shelter of anonymity to its inhabitants is now one in which daily life feels militarised.

Here are details of Situationist-inspired street-theatre performances, acted out directly in front of Times Square cameras, that reverse the gaze of the would-be panoptic state. Surveillance technology goes hand in hand with the suburbanisation of this city, being installed primarily in already-safe neighbourhoods, and rarely in "troublesome" working-class communities where they might feasibly be of some use. Brown's excellent website (www.notbored. org), together with this inspiring book, is of great interest to anyone discomfited by the number of cameras in this country [...]

(Written by Sukhdev Sandhu, and published in the 27 September 2007 issue of The New Statesman.)

Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players

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

NY Surveillance Camera Players