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O B S u r v e i l l a n c e   -   u n d e r   c o v e r

Modern safety concerns have led to an increase in the use of surveillance technologies. Corporations,
campuses and homeowners are concerned with who enters their environs and when. As digital technology
moves into video, the realms of video-conferencing and video surveillance blur. Many people are
interested in the social issues surrounding such tendencies. This project will explore the area of video
surveillance - information gathering, processing and display. The project deals with the multiple
presence of others (known and unknown), watching and being watched and finally, seeing oneself in space
merge with others in space and time.

We borrow from the strategic and tactical approach of militarists. Eschewing a discussion of modern
weapons, OBSurveillance pinpoints an invisible element: Time. Surveillance tapes are recorded via
time-sequencing frame-by-frame switchers with time-display text. But tapes are generally duplicated
based on recorded events [crime, disturbance] - or the event-potential of the surveilled location
[corporate headquarters, intelligence facilities...]. In this sense, it may be that time is not a sequence of
events, but events themselves. Event-time is the kind of time that McLuhan called oral or tactile. The TV
- "Big Brother for watching" - is full of events tailor-made for those moments when we find ourselves
with no other events to turn to.

This points to a larger question of the role of time in surveillance. Georg Lukacs sums up the
post-industrial critique of time when he writes, "In this environment where time is transformed into
abstract, exactly measurable, physical space, an environment at once the cause and the effect of
scientifically fragmented and specialized production of the object of labor..." According to geographer
David Harvey, "18th century clocks and bells that called the workers to labour and merchants to the
market" separated the peasantry "from the 'natural' rhythms of agrarian life, and divorced from
religious significations, merchants and masters created a new 'chronological net' in which daily life
was caught."

The word "clock" derives from words that mean "bell" in old French, German, Irish, and Latin, to name
a few. Do we watch the clock or does the watch clock us? Larger questions about time will be posed to
random segments of the human race in the project Unlimited Free Time. (See Unlimited Free Space.)

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