CCTV and Surveillance

CCTV and surveillance is often studied in relation to its implementation as a crime control tool or its invasion of privacies as it settles into the ‘cloud’. While research continues to demonstrate how mass surveillance practices are at best ineffective in preventing interpersonal violence (and at worst systematically expanding discrimination on basis of race, class and gender), this project elaborates on the affective experience surveillance has on the imaginations of cities. That is, it explores not only those under the intentional gaze of surveillance but also those who move through, consume and ‘sense’ the surveilled city.

Using experiences of CCTV in city spaces across Australia and the UK as contemporary examples, this project explores how visual surveillance continues to reassemble itself as both banal and dynamic in the structuring of everyday life. Positing that surveillance can ‘shed light’ only by casting shadows, this project emphasises how CCTV unsettles sensory experiences. Drawing subjects into its atmosphere, surveillance technologies thus become and create the city, mediating encounters through its own technology of understanding. This has social and political consequences. Ongoing investment into the desire to ‘see all’ can result in the outsourcing of lived experiences in the city, ultimately flattening urban encounters of the everyday.


Caitlin Overington