following are some rough notes from feb. 19. meeting with th. and myself. many questions to discuss. please add to them! what’s in <> is possible action/performance/experiments. especially add to those!
1. you can’t discuss surveillance without discussing race
2. or the money
(camera as way to make the neighborhood more “attractive” by moving undesirables out of sight; real estate developer’s weapon; reverse block-busting)
3. what is the implication of many cameras being bought with anti-terrorism $ ?
(the war on drugs, the war on terror, whatever you call it…)
4. cameras attempt to project the image they desire (to prevent). they are not only passive recorders of cultural exception, but rather active projectors of desired cultural norms.
5. cameras attempt to project docility and the idea of omnipresence. as with the slave/master relationship.
6. recording prevents change. you are whoever you were as far as the cameras are concerned. how long are records kept? at what point are we no longer the person on the video? are we ever?
(surveillance displaces the self with the image/object/commodity. where is the link between identity and self?)
7. remote surveillance allows presence while absent, control without risk. (like aerial bombardment instead of ground troops) who’s watching? and from where?
> > (w.)
> > 1. you can’t discuss surveillance without discussing race
> I think yes, but also maybe on a larger scale spatially speaking,
> urban/suburban/rural divides seem to be in play here, and addressed far less
> often in discussions about surveillance.
I was just reading a book (Popkewitz- Struggling for the Soul) about the construction of the terms urban and rural as “other.” I think in conservative as well as education circles it is largely true that “urban” or “inner-city” means “other” and that you can read race/economy into that. That does not deny there is as spatial component – but the spatial component is probably more based on concentration and demographics.
Also interesting to think that different economic levels might require different forms of surveillance – for example, people with credit cards and bank records can be tracked through that, while those who are avoiding or can’t afford those “empowering” structures require other surveillance. Of course there are overlaps.
> > 2. or the money (camera as way to make the neighborhood more “attractive” by
> > moving undesirables out of sight; real estate developer’s weapon; reverse
> > block-busting)
> While I agree that the camera’s move the “riff raff” out of sight, would you
> really go so far as saying Chicago’s cop strobes have made neighborhoods
> more “attractive”??? Neighborhood’s (or, more exactly, certain intersections
> and street corners) may be perceived by those who don’t live in them as
> “safer” but not necessarily as more desirable or valuable. In fact, my guess
> is that the Chicago-style flashing box will perform a doubly negative
> function: One the one hand, they will denude its vicinity of any vital
> street life–perhaps reducing the incidence of crime in the immediate area,
> but eradicating the same area of its organically evolved public life. And on
> the other hand, the cameras will serve to stigmatize the place in the eyes
> of outsiders. To those who live in neighborhoods without cameras, the
> cameras announce danger and violence, even if the cameras are in fact
> helping to curb that stuff. I think it is possible that eventually the
> cameras will lose this particular negative association, but I don’t think
> that will happen anytime soon, at least not as long as cop cams are only
> placed in certain neighborhoods and not others.
I definitely agree the cameras are negative image for a neighborhood – at least the flashing ones. But they might represent only a second stage of a multi-stage gentrification process. By the end, the cameras, and the people they were meant to move off, are gone.
> I guess my point here is
> that while it is tempting to theorize the cameras as tools in the usual
> process of gentrification, it is very important to see their potential as a
> disciplinary technology. As a disciplinary technology, their function is not
> to facilitate the displacement of a people (as in gentrification), but
> rather to control a population seen as potentially disruptive, and to do it
> through both surveillance and stigmatized segregation. To me, that’s a whole
> lot scarier than just the usual real estate game.
Agreed. See #4 below.
> > 3. what is the implication of many cameras being bought with anti-terrorism $
> > > ? (the war on drugs, the war on terror, whatever you call it…)
> Surveillance definitely seems like a point of intersection between all these
> different “fronts” of the single, permanent War. If it is in fact a single
> War as some of us believe, we should look to this and other points of
> intersection–ie not to the current inept bureaucratic modeling of the
> intersections that we get under some crack-high bureaucracy calling itself
> the Homeland Security Department, in which many sub-groups do many mutually
> unrelated things, but rather the potential future War government comprised
> of a Department of Surveillance, a Department of Arms, a Department of
> Public Relations, etc, as the poles from which a totalizing War economy and
> culture might be administered. Certain techniques or tasks common to all
> the fronts will emerge as these poles, and surveillance is chief among them.
> Not saying this will happen, given all the institutional inertia in the
> government, but I can pretty easily imagine some think tank people happening
> on the idea of reorganizing government in just such a way and introduce the
> concept to politicians who, looking to make a name for themselves, champion
> such totalizing bureaucratic statements as a new ideal.
I remember getting chills when Kucinych proposed the Department of Peace – very orwellian as you describe above. I think what you are proposing is happening under the radar. TIA is continuing under another name. Having all records amalgamated is inevitable, and linking this to a specific space/time (through GPS or rfid or whatever) is probably the final step. I’m not sure what you mean by war economy, but see this link:
> labels on like “drugdealer”> > developers as master…>
> > 4. cameras attempt to project the image they desire (to prevent). they are not
> > only passive recorders of cultural exception, but rather active projectors of
> > desired cultural norms.
> > 5. cameras attempt to project docility and the idea of omnipresence. as with
> > the slave/master relationship.
> This is for sure. My questions are what changes when the “master” becomes
> much more abstract and disembodied? And what kind of embodied resistances
> make sense under such conditions? Given these two questions, that
> performance and all ideas for performances seems deserving of perhaps more
> detailed attention, with a particular focus on this problem of how embodied,
> actual citizens can deal with a disembodied antagonist.
I especially appreciate the second question. How can we go on? How do we keep from buying into surveillance? Are we addicted to seeing images of ourselves? What modes can we inhabit? I think that is why we need to experiment.
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