Surveillance Camera Players interview

Surveillance Camera Players

by Alessandro Ludovico

What about a worldwide surveillance cameras survey? Did you ever planned collaborative efforts like this?
We are already helping to create a web site to which people could post pictures and locations of surveillance cameras they have found in their hometowns. Though this site would be geared towards the United States (only), it is taking a lot of work to put together. It seems that aworld-wide camera survey would take even more work and even more time. But it would be a great and very valuable project. The use of video cameras to watch public space is taking place all over the world, usually without any commentary, discussion or documentation. We must do something to stop it.

Did you hear of the ‘SpyFinder’, a device that spots the presence of a surveillance camera? And, on the other end, what about the Indigo Systems’ ‘Omega’ and Irvine System Corporation’s ‘Cam-Noir’, minuscule cameras that can spot bodies in the dark, thanks to the heat we emit? Do you think it’s the beginning of a sort of cops and robbers play?
Yes, exactly. Two points: 1) we do not use any “spyfinder” or similar devices to locate surveillance cameras in New York, even though we have read all about them. We only use our “naked” eyes to locate cameras. The machines that spot surveillance cameras are very sophisticated, technical and expensive devices that would either be too costly for the average citizen or too complicated for the average citizen to understand, and we try to do everything at the level that an average or ordinary citizen could do and could understand; 2) “cops and robbers games” or even “arms races” (such as we saw between the USA and the Soviet Union) are an inevitable part of solutions that are merely or simply technological. To get out of the cycle of “cops and robbers” or “arms races,” we must abandon technological “solutions,” which are always superficial, and get down to the real sources of the problems, which are always human and social.

Do you ever thought of using an electronic device to disturb the signals transmission of one survaillance camera? And why?
No. Two reasons: 1) see our answers to the “spyfinder” question: we use no devices of any kind to avoid the cult of expertize and specialists; and we want to get out of the “cops and robbers” game, and using technology to disturb the cameras’ signals would only put us right into the heart of it; and 2) we try to avoid illegal activity of all kinds so that we aren’t ever confused with criminals, vandals or terrorists of any kind. There is a great deal of attention on the SCP by FBI, CIA, US military etc etc and we want to give them NOTHING to hang us with.

Not Bored is still in print? If so, how many issues are out in a year? Do you think a printed bullettin is tactical for this kind of hacktivism?
NOT BORED! still comes out in print form, yes. The last issue came out in late August 2001 and was dated September 2001. (It includes nothing about Sept 11 2001.) A new issue usually comes out ever year or so (irregularly). A new issue will probably come out in June or July 2002. I’m not sure that the SCP are “hacktivists,” because we *detourne* (not *hack*) surveillance cameras. Be that as it may: yes, a printed bulletin is (still) necessary, despite and even because of the Internet. There are some things on the NOT BORED! web site that have never been in the printed magazine, and vice versa, too. No theory or consistency here: just usefulness. You can’t send a web site to a prisoner in jail.

If you have a chance to pass a night as a survaillance guard, behind the monitor, what you’d like to do?
GREAT QUESTION!!!!!!!!!! I would take out all the old surveillance tapes (maybe even a few of my own), and then — mixing and splicing and scratching like a hip hop DJ musician — I’d program a special show for the camera-system.