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Under Surveillance

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  630 Words (3 Pages)  •  934 Views

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Who embodies the spirit of our times?

"...I am, as are you, always under surveilance." ( Jill Magid)

True or not this sentence, which the artist Jill Magid wrote, embodies the spirit of our time. The need for increased surveillance has risen rapidly over the last several years and questions regarding the methods of surveillance aroused. On the subways in New York, a voice announces to the travellers that if they are carrying backpacks they can be subjected to a search. At Schiphol airport in The Netherlands one must now go through a full body scan, similar to the baggage scans, when entering the designated gate. In many cities around the world, there are surveillance cameras out on the streets monitoring the pedestrians. The increased supervision of public and private space is a delicate matter; some are terrified by the thought that they are being watched while others find comfort in it. Like it or not one must accept that surveillance is a part of modern day life.

Jill Magid is an artist that utilises the monitoring systems in current society for her own artistic purposes. For Liverpool Biennale 2004 Jill Magid spent 31 day under the surveillance of the Liverpool police. In Liverpool alone there are 242 CCTV (closed circuit television) surveillance cameras in the city centre. The footages, which are obtained by the CCTV system, are stored for 31 day unless a Subject Access Request Form is submitted. If done so the footage must be stored in an evidence locker for 7 years by law. Magid offered herself to the Liverpool police as a guinea pig to their CCTV surveillance system. At the same time, she used the system to work for her as she used the CCTV operators as a movie crew and the city as a movie set.

For 31 day she walked around the city in red trench coat and red boots so she could be easily spotted out on the streets. Each day she called


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