CCTV ¦ The All-Seeing (soc)i(ety) ¦ Faceless


The other day I was walking along our high street when I saw this ‘mobile CCTV’… tank parked up. They were snapping, so I thought it only polite to reciprocate.

It seems we’ve totally resigned ourselves to being discreetly observed at all times. Speed cameras, CCTV, Congestion Charge cameras… I the novel I’ve been working on I talk about a ‘black atlas’ of London, plotting the routes you could drive without being filmed. I’m not sure you could get 200 feet any more.

Teaching a class of 12 and 13 year olds the other day I asked them, in the context of a debate about terrorism and security, whether they thought CCTV everywhere was an infringement of their civil liberties. Initially most of them thought it wasn’t. It was ‘a good thing, to stop crime and terrorists.’ Of course, we then began to discuss what sort of level of filming one would need to really achieve this, and it basically boiled down to Big Brother: someone watching everyone’s every move.

We’re not far off. This evening on the news there was an item about drone planes being deployed in the near future to track terror and crime suspects. I for one would have a shot at one if I saw one 😉

_42924065_faceless2203Which brings me to the excellent piece about Manu Luksch – an Austrian film maker who has created ‘Faceless‘, a film shot entirely from CCTV footage of herself she has obtained under freedom of information legislation. Predictably, many were very unwilling to give it, despite clear guidelines for speed and cost of delivery of the images. It’s a step up from the Dogme 95 manifesto: the Manifesto for CCTV Film Makers is an even harder taskmaster. But one that I think is highly relevant for these strange times.


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7 responses to “CCTV ¦ The All-Seeing (soc)i(ety) ¦ Faceless”

  1. dont they just observe crime rather than stop it.
    maybe they are good for backing up a case against someone, or even for identifying a criminal.
    but do they stop crimes from happening?

  2. The thing I didn’t like was the blacked out windows… Why are they needed? Why hide the faces of the people inside? I think it would be less threatening if it was done in a more open way, but the aesthetics appear to be deliberately harsh. I think it’s a pattern you can see in a lot of Police vehicles: the graphics etc are now far more… threatening? They could have the same performance out of a BMW chase car without all the bravado… It’s all gone too bling for me. And Dixon of Dock Green, I’d bet 😉

  3. There austere/hostile/military/trendy look of Police services now is odd considering how it contrasts with the subservient under-police known as Specials. You’ll recognise a special, they tend to be well-manicured women or scrawny men, all of whom are below average height (I know this because I am average hieght, which means, essentially, that I am short).
    Appearance is everything. Let’s give the appearance of Big Brother watching us whereupon Big Brother is actually watching porn or asleep. Does a crime look more believeable if it’s recorded? Or does it look more staged? I often wondered that.
    Who’s gonna be first to stage a stereotypical crime for CCTV just to prove that it an look just like it does on a bad TV-reconstrution? Tempting, I know.
    Where is the most inappropriate place we can stick a fake “This is a CCTV surveilance area” sticker? A crematorium? On the back of a toilet door in a public toilet? Church building? (probably been done)
    There’s a wall on the Navy Barracks near me that has 9 CCTV cameras on a stretch not more than 3 metres long. I’ve often stood there being vulgar, but no-one has come out. (any excuse to stan in public being vulgar, other than teaching of course)
    Is it a joke? See-see TeeVee?

  4. I think people will begin to mock CCTV in the ways you describe… Rendering it less than useful.
    Indeed, it’s probably our duty as citizens to do so.
    Nice to have you back 😉

  5. And here it is: the first CCTV Anti-social behaviour drone
    They are watching us all now.
    Get your catapults ready.

  6. I never said I was back, just bored 😉
    I noticed a camera on the cash point last night. That’s just typical, lets film how much money people withdraw… this an only end in tears.

  7. Thanks to Mike over at Mootblog for the tip about the film ‘Taking Liberties’ on release in London next week: