CCTV working for you

June 5, 2008 at 2:57 am Leave a comment

I’ve blogged before about people using CCTV to create art or movies (check out CCTV in Categories). And here’s another great story about a bunch of musicians using CCTV in performance art. An unsigned band in Manchester, UK, called The Get Out Clause, has no video equipment. So doing a YouTube video and being discovered overnight perhaps isn’t an option when you have no equipment. What to do?

Look up high. Spot those insidious CCTV cameras glaring down on you and think about how you can use them to make a video of your band. So the group set themselves up in 80 different locations around Manchester, drumsticks, singers, the works. And they played to the CCTV cameras. Loving it!!

Now, here’s the really interesting bit. The band members then wrote to the companies owning the CCTV cameras and asked for the footage under the Freedom of Information Act. (I did the same for my journey from Central Station in Sydney to CBD – still waiting for a reply). Only 25% of the companies contacted fulfilled their LEGAL obligation to hand over the footage. Excuses were generally along the line of they didn’t have the footage or it was deleted (then what’s the point of CCTV I ask??). Smaller companies were more likely to oblige the band.

Here’s the band with their song Paper – I really like it, great CCTV music!

I maintain that it would be quite a fascinating exercise to request CCTV footage of somewhere you know you’ve been (like my recent walk from Central to CBD purposely counting CCTV cameras and staring pointedly at them!). I would guarantee that the footage would not be handed over, with excuses of it’s been deleted or whatever. I still ask: what is done with footage? what profiles have been set up to weed out people who might look suspect so that security people are let loose onto them? how long is the footage kept? who is actually behind these cameras? what training have they had? what standards are there (or rather, why aren’t there standards); how are these silent people recruited? what are their qualifications?

Thx to Andrew Mitchell for alerting me to this story. Andrew leads the technology and knowledge team at Urbis.

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Entry filed under: CCTV, Public webcams, Surveillance society, Useful resources. Tags: , .

Take that, Google! Big Brother and CoPs

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