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Detourned Cameras

The Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) of New York love detournement, the surrealist and situationist practice they have applied to surveillance cameras. On 7 September [2001], this group of radical artists initiated the first international day against video surveillance, in which 21 groups from 6 different countries staged shows in front of a variety of targets. In Paris, the well-known group of militants called "Smile, You Are Being Filmed" wore sheep masks and held aloft a banner that proclaimed "No to video policing."

The New York SCP were formed in 1996 on the basis of a "Guerilla Manifesto" that defined the camera as a "tool of social control." On a regular basis, the members "perform" various texts and theatrical pieces so as to draw the attention of the people on public streets to that "other" public, which is made up of invisible and undesirable surveillants.

Since the [11 September 2001] attacks in New York, the NY SCP -- because they are nearby the scene of the drama -- are within the zone in which control and surveillance have become the conditions sine qua non and the prices for Security. Insulting and menacing e-mail, eavesdropping and surveillance of their websites by the FBI and their consorts -- the SCP is disturbing the climate of censorship and ambiant self-censorship. Songs, TV broadcasts, video games, websites -- what's next? "Degenerate art"?!

[Written by Christine Treguier and published 22 October 2001 by Politis. Translated from the French by Bill Brown.]

Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail SCP

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

NY Surveillance Camera Players