A Periscope is a device allowing observation of an object, scene or person without a direct line of sight. It enables one to observe without being seen.
I have long been interested in the reasons behind society’s obsession with surveillance, with the ethical and legal issues that arise from it and the psychological effect of knowing you are being watched. The project I would like to exhibit is centered on the increasing utilization of CCTV surveillance in public and domestic settings and the way it affects our daily life. The advances of technology and our increasingly paranoid society have pushed the adoption of video surveillance, and now more cameras than ever before record us.
What is surprising, however, is that a large number of these video streams can be found online, unprotected and unsecured, making them practically public. Security cameras from factories, public and private buildings, offices, shops, farms and virtually anywhere where a camera can be placed can be easily and freely accessed online, viewed and recorded completely unrestrictedly and anonymously.
Surveillance is quite ubiquitous today and we are accustomed to being watched and recorded in our workplace and in public spaces. We rarely pay attention to the small black domes scattered around, and we prefer not to ponder who might be on the other side of the cable. We are told they are there for our safety, and since there isn’t much that we can do about it, this explanation provides comfort. We accept for a fact that the information gathered through these devices is secure, that it would only be used in case of a crime or an accident and that just a couple of security officers can ever access it.
And yet, as this work shows, there often is a much broader and very anonymous audience. Furthermore, dedicated websites compiling and presenting these open streams exist, places where people view and comment them. Even camera broadcasts from private residences can be found on these websites, with lengthy comment threads discussing the actions and behavior of the residents. Why would you subject yourself to the scrutiny of an anonymous viewer? Is it a technical glitch or a purposeful action? Is this really someone’s home or a social experiment?