Video Sniffin. Have you heard of this term? I hadn’t until recently but I’ve been sniffing around to find out more about it and it’s kept me away from the darker side of surveillance. Video sniffin is a term that refers to the practice of picking up the public signals being broadcast by wireless CCTV (aka hacking wireless CCTV). As with a recent post where I told you about the film Look, using images from CCTV, here’s another example of people using public webcams to create art, in this case a short film. Makes sense to me: why buy expensive video equipment when there are millions of public webcams around to use?
MediaShed, the first “free media” space to open in the east of the UK, uses Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and waste electronic equipment. So it’s taking accessible media apart, reusing it without limitations and creating an artistic expression. Some members of MediaShed decided to use CCTV to make a film. Using cheap video receivers, they sniffed out 24 public webcams or hotspots and used the CCTV cameras to make a film called The Commercial. You can view it here. So you’ll see that young people are using technology, that is normally surveilling their activities, for creative purposes.
MediaShed also headed into a shopping centre in Manchester to make a film combining free-media with free-running. Parkour or free-running involves fluid uninterrupted movement adapting motion to obstacles in the environment. Like free-media, free-running makes use of and re-energises the infrastructure of the city. Professional parkour breakin’ crew, Methods of Movement, choreographed a performance that was filmed in the shopping centre over three consecutive nights. The film was shot using only the existing in-house CCTV network of 160 cameras operated from the central control room, with a soundtrack created entirely from the sounds and noises recorded during the performance. The film is called The Duellists and you can see it here. How good is this??!!