So I decided that I'd spend a week photographing every CCTV camera I spot on my divagations: the flâneur or flâneuse doesn't get much time alone these days. Here are the cameras covering my 3/4 mile walk from home to work: the vast majority are in the last 200 yards from the boundary of the university to my office. Apologies for the quality: I used my ageing phone for convenience. Anyone care to bet how many I'll see in a week?
|On an anonymous corner near the park|
|Hotel car park|
|By the ring road|
|Edge of the university|
|Car park by the university|
|A breeding pair of cameras in the corridor outside the library|
|In the quad|
|In the quad again|
|Another in the quad|
|Yet another in the quad|
|Another one in the quad|
|And another one in the quad|
|In my building's entrance|
|By the lift, floor 2.|
I joke, but I really hate surveillance culture, particularly this distanced electronic version. It assumes that without the Panopticon, we would rapidly descend into the bad sort of anarchy, that we deserve to be watched, but that we don't deserve the presence of actual human security. One of the things my management has done recently is open up the electronic security barriers during the day, so that anyone can walk in. It's caused considerable disquiet, but I support it: we're part of the community and should be radically open. I'd love to adopt the American custom of 'auditing', in which everyone can come to lectures: the privilege of being a registered student is in the assessment and conferment of a qualification.
If you treat people like the enemy, such as building high-security gated communities, those inside actually develop deeper fears while those outside resent their exclusion. You can read Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on this: he says that the Fall began when the rich stopped providing public services (out of altruism or simple fear of the mob) and started building higher walls and hiring more goons to protect their obscene luxuries. Anyone walking around Mayfair or Chelsea will know what he means. You can also read JG Ballard's later novels about the effects of voluntarily ghettoising yourself: in Millennium People, Super-Cannes and Cocaine Nights the bourgeoisie attempt to seal themselves of in consumerist utopian bubbles, and rapidly degenerate. He knows whereof he speaks: he spent time in a Japanese concentration camp as a child.
You're very welcome to join in: count the ones you see and post your photos on Twitter with the hashtag #cctvweek.