"The series “Mass Surveillance” is the result of a photographic survey of the thousands of publicly accessible webcams live-streaming around the world. It is a reflection about how our daily lives, in general, are constantly monitored and controlled.
In documenting this phenomenon, the first impression is that the apparatus of the surveillance camera carries an inescapable and uncanny quality. Pictorially and precisely, its images connote the so-called ”state of exception,” a condition within law when all rules and all laws are suspended. It is the state of exception that underwrites the state of emergency, under which so many places have fallen.
While the security camera is intended to protect and police, the public webcam takes on the outward form of entertainment. But more disturbingly, these streaming images are utilized today to underwrite regimes of power, where normal rights of privacy are permanently suspended.
“Mass Surveillance” collects images from all over the world: a kindergarten in Japan to the streets of London. Insofar as these images were gathered from the Internet, “Mass Surveillance” presents the apparatus of the traditional surveillance camera in its contemporary iteration, the webcam. Thus, the final images take on the distortions of the device while pushing them further, emphasizing digitalization, pixellation, and the very process of being (re)photographed.
Given the physical ubiquity of such cameras today—and add in their footages’ presence on the Internet—and we arrive at a moment where the state of exception is no longer an exception, but a universal."
Since 2010 she has been working on a long-term, perpetually ongoing, project, Mass Surveillance, which is the result of a sustained, photographic-documentary survey of the thousands of publicly accessible webcams available on the Internet. The presence of this wide network of surveillance cameras illustrates how public, as well as private day-to-day activities are constantly monitored and subtly or explicitly controlled. The series is composed of still photos shot with a digital camera through the screen of a computer while attending freely accessible webcams’ live-streaming sessions on the Internet and aims to question the increasingly intricate connections between privacy rights and surveillance needs in the post-9/11 world.
- taken from Gaia Lights website
MASS SURVEILLANCE 2016
The Mass Surveillance series is a systematic sampling of thousands of publicly accessible webcams, which for very different reasons offer free, live-streaming services and broadcast a range of activities that cover private and public space, urban and domestic environments, and seemingly remote and/or wild landscapes worldwide. The series is composed of still photos shot with a digital camera through the screen of a computer while attending freely accessible webcams' live-streaming sessions on the Internet and aims to question the increasingly intricate connections between privacy rights and surveillance needs in the post-9/11 world.
For years I have been documenting all sorts of streams, freely available and easily accessible on the Internet, photographing all kinds of extremes and weird practices happening on surveillance cameras and distributed online, for God knows what reason.
I have always been intrigued by the perpetually increasing extent of the popularity of this phenomenon, recognizing a lack of information and, more importantly, of specific and adequate regulation or accountability.
The Internet is a gigantic planet, some would say dark planet, and as any other communal experience needs limits, boundaries, and rules in order to healthily and democratically function. Technology is certainly faster than the legislator nowadays, but this should represent an incentive to confront the problem, not an excuse/alibi to remain passive.
I believe in the power of visual knowledge and in the progressive force of photography as an important tool to raise consciousness and inspire reflections and actions toward positive changes within the regulatory apparatus of the Internet, especially when related to surveillance practices and abusive interpersonal relations.
The Mass Surveillance series is focused on the limits and dangers of the Internet as ideal platform for the broadcast of everyday life, much of which occurs without the subjects or the participants ever knowing they are conscripted “actors” in a strange carnival.
This Series is for all of the unaware victims of abusive surveillance practices in the hope that my efforts will suggest/inspire a change in the way the Internet’s wilder practices are perceived today by the majority of aware and unaware citizens and above all by sleeping legislators.
In this series and written document above, Gaia talks about the need for "regulation and accountability" on the internet and aims to expose the dangers of "abusive surveillance" which can be found freely online. Again, for me, it is the aesthetic of the images which appeals - harsh vignette, grainy, pixelated, out of focus with camera angles that are taken from up high, all of which make the images feel indecorous - inappropriate.
At some stage, I would like to try and manipulate my images to have this kind of appearance to see how they work and how it changes the meaning.
"In our increasingly intrusive electronic culture, how do we delineate the boundary between public and private? “Surveillance Landscapes” is a body of work that interrogates how surveillance technology has changed our relationship to—and understanding of—landscape and place.
To produce this work, I hack into surveillance cameras, public webcams, and CCTV feeds in pursuit of the “classical” picturesque landscape. The resulting visual product becomes dislocated from its automated origins and leads to an investigation of land, borders, and power. The very act of surveying a site through these photographic systems implies a dominating relationship between man and place.
Ultimately, I hope to undermine these schemes of social control through my blurred, melancholic images—found while exploiting the technological mechanisms of power in our surveillance society."
Images taken from http://www.marcusdesieno.com/surveillance-landscapes/m67a5gdxcw025r88sananaoaefcbr2
I really like the aesthetic of this work - the landscape viewed through the grubby glass of the CCTV lens, does indeed invoke a sense of possession upon me as the viewer. The natural aesthetic of nature obscured by manmade machine.
Of all the practitioners I have looked at, I identify most with the work of Beat Streuli - not necessarily in our motives or self objectives, but certianly in our finished work. In fact on reflection, I am quite astounded by the similarities in our work up to this point. Streulis aesthetic is a lot more clearer, richer and polished in appearance to mine, and this is for several technical and logistical reasons including, the time of year and the weather, which limits my ambient light availability to somewhere between grey and greyer. I cannot wait for the spring/summer months when I can drop my iso, increase my shutter speed and throw caution to the wind with my aperture for maximum artisitic quality control!!
There is also Streulis equipment to take into account, he uses a telephoto lens, which although I cant find the details for, I can tell that it far outshines any lens I have available to use. I would hazard an educated guess that he probably shoots with a lens of at least 400mm with a very wide aperture of somewhere around f2.8 - this accounts for the clarity, rich tones and noise-free aesthetic. This gives his images an almost cinematic quality - no doubt useful for the billboard sized prints he displays of his work!
This photo series questions surveillance in our city
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"Everybody Street" illuminates the lives and work of New York's iconic street photographers and the incomparable city that has inspired them for decades. The documentary pays tribute to the spirit of street photography through a cinematic exploration of New York City, and captures the visceral rush, singular perseverance and at times immediate danger customary to these artists.
Featured PhotographersBruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie, with historians Max Kozloff and Luc Sante.
Cheryl Dunn: I'm attracted to real emotion rather than manufactured emotion. I'm drawn to level playing fields. I hate when people think they are better than everyone else: that's not interesting to me. That's not my scene and that's not what draws my eye. I like to point my camera at something that isn't getting attention - I want to find stories in your average person's face or actions.
Cheryl Dunn: The public's reaction to photography changes exponentially every couple of months. What is the trend? What is people's behavior like in front of and behind the camera? It's constantly evolving. One month people are nervous about being slandered on the Internet with images, the next it seems like everyone's looking for a little bit of notoriety and are stoked to have a camera poked in their face. Who knows what new app, way of shooting/sharing images is going to exist in six months. I just try to stay the course and do what I do. I alter my behavior based on people's reaction to me and their relationship with photography so that I can shoot the images I'm trying to get, that's all.
Suz Tucker: What was the turning point in the late '90s that inspired you to focus on a different art form other than photography through filmmaking?
Cheryl Dunn: I love them both and I feel they both inform each other – I still split my time between the two mediums. In this project, they are very equally utilised and the stillness of how I showed the artist's photographs statically, embedded in the often frantic, handheld film camera footage, seems to balance the experience. Very early in my career I did more photography, but when I started to make films myself, I always incorporated the still image, and I think visa versa - my still photographs have always been infused with motion, and actually breaking the frame when I did start to make film was very liberating.
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