The presence of video-surveillance systems has become a ubiquitous practice in public, semi-public and private urban spaces. This phenomenon is based on a rhetoric of combating crime and insecurity, producing at the same time control and normalization of the spaces under observation. This is a global phenomenon observed in many countries around the world to various degrees.
With our investigation, which discusses the possibilities of artistic appropriation of surveillance circuits, we discuss not only issues on civil liberties and the right to privacy (always in discussion when the theme of the control society is raised) but also and overall, how the symbolic construction of common space, social imaginary and political functions of images come into being in a world more and more media oriented.
The fact of taking on the force of video-surveillance is not to say that we embrace it as a tool of social control; much to the contrary. We refuse to delegate the responsibility of observing others – and ourselves, to mechanisms based on suspicion. One of our intentions with this work is to redefine relations between people, gaze and image, overcoming fear and insecurity. By the same measure we propose the re-thinking of the experience of cinema, video and television starting from this presence of cctv cameras.
When we offer the images from surveillance cameras for a live cinema performance, we are inviting the viewers to enter into this game, where it is their own especulative capacity that is in scene, repositioning the place of the cinematographic director, of the narrative omniscience and the authorship of the images. In a brechtian fashion we question the narative structures convened in the 20th century and the forms of visual representation historically constituted. The responsibility – that Peter Brook would “decoupage” in respons–ability – of each of us to be at the ready, with spirit, senses alert, reflexes tuned, assuming a vigilant posture, that has no intention of assuming control of the scene in a previously given direction, but simply play, or to use a term fond to musicians, to jam. In this way various forms of intuition are stimulated and developed - through listening to the body, through the observation of life, through inherited cultural memory. Performers and the public collaborate in the narrative construction, which forcibly creates itself by fusing the collective audio-visual imaginary and the real time occurences captured by the cameras. Playing with codes of cinema, sounds and stereotyped characters, memory and history, we place in check the actual functionality of the images – which, in video circuits that are incessantly recording, most of the time have no function whatsoever – creating a game of construction and deconstruction where nothing is what it appears to be.