your face here

dear State-funded
surveillance worker:

I see you
out there

trying to sift value
a rough appraisal

staring long
at the citizens
at life through a digital lens
always from the same angle:
down

as if you were
royalty
or deity

what must be happening in your soul
as each day you take up this
privileged post

and what does the world
look like
when your shift is done?

to think it was Sesame Street
that led to this:
you in a room
watching
watching
watching

“Only someone completely distrustful of all government
would be opposed to what we are doing with surveillance cameras.”
— NYC Police Commissioner Howard Safir, 27 July 1999.

Watcher: n. One whose occupation is to monitor CCTV feed.
“Some of the more honest watchers will say, you look at empty elevators and corridors for hours. So, the conceit was that it was boring to be a watcher, therefore we’ll give them something to watch. The further joke was, when they watch anything, they watch sex and violence—so, we’ll give them literature and class.”
…………- Bill Brown, co-founder of the Surveillance Camera Players, NYC

Drawing from Foucault (2001) in his description of the Greek parrhesiastes (person possessing ‘free speech’) provides us with insight into the role the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) and Bill Brown, as its defining force, are playing in the open criticism of public surveillance. As Foucault re-folds the concept, he describes parrhesia as “a kind of verbal activity where the speaker has a specific relation to the truth through frankness, a
certain relationship to his own life through danger, a certain type of relation to himself or other people through criticism (self-criticism or criticism of other people), and a specific relation to moral law through freedom and duty. More precisely, parrhesia, is a verbal activity in which a speaker expresses his person relationship to the truth, and risks his life because he recognizes truth-telling as a duty to improve or help other people (as well as himself). In parrhesia, the speaker uses his freedom and chooses frankness instead of
persuasion, truth instead of falsehood or silence, the risk of death instead of life and security, criticism instead of flattery, and moral duty instead of self-interest and moral apathy.” (Foucault, 2001: 19)

Here’s more on SCP: http://www.notbored.org/the-scp.html

This morning
I taped
paper
over the
built-in
camera
on my
lap-top.

We
hide,
they
seek.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s