Welcome to the ‘Are’ QR code portal! You might have arrived through the QR code on a poster situated on South Castle Street, Dundee. Or, you may have stumbled across the portal on the Twitter hashtag page #TheParadoxAndTheCreep. If you are not currently standing on the street in Dundee, you can find out more about this project on my website home page.
If you want to view, or contribute to, the expanded thoughts and discussion on Twitter, go to #TheParadoxAndTheCreep and click ‘latest’ in the menu to see the full tweet thread. All interactions on this hashtag will become part of the artwork. You do not need a Twitter account to view the hashtag page.
Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep is a process-led artwork. The content will be released into the QR Code portals in stages.
This is partly to show the work in progress, but also to give viewers an opportunity to absorb the material and comment in #TheParadoxAndTheCreep Twitter hashtag.
This exhibition has ended in Dundee, but it will remain online.
In Scotland, there are so many cameras now
Even if you don’t include all of the private security cameras in semi-public spaces such as shopping malls and banks, there are so many cameras now. According to the Scottish Government document on the “National Strategy for Public Space CCTV in Scotland” there are 2571 “open street” Public Space CCTV Cameras in Scotland. 81 of those cameras are in Dundee.
Traffic surveillance cameras in Scotland
In Scotland there is a network of live (real time) traffic surveillance cameras that can be accessed on the Traffic Scotland website. It is a service provided by Transport Scotland. The access to these cameras allows motorists to monitor weather conditions and traffic congestion on certain routes. See link to Traffic Scotland website
Municipalities and private businesses all over the world have joined the trend to install publicly accessible webcams. This service enables visitors to surveil local activity. However, the digital technology that runs these surveillance cameras can be finicky and expensive to maintain. The BBC recently cut the funding to its webcam network across the UK. They had been used by viewers to watch weather, wildlife and traffic conditions. Up until about 9 months ago, Dundee City Council had a public access webcam monitoring the City Squarefrom the roof of the Caird Hall. Due to the current renovations it is not currently operational, but you can see a series of stills taken from the Dundee City Square webcam on the Windy.com weather website at this link
A different view point on the surveillance of cities
Another form of surveillance, which is hugely beneficial for everyone, is the photography documentation of the transformations of cities. City planning departments employ photographers who record the changes in the built environment of the urban landscape. These documents become valuable parts of the history of a city. Furthermore, the monitoring of people who travel through the urban landscape, making their desire lines, becomes a valuable tool to develop a safer road traffic strategy.See below, the Dundee city planning department photo documentation of the construction of Slessor Gardens, the site of Sharing Not Hoarding, where this exhibition is currently being shown. Thank you to John Gray, Dundee City Council Planning Officer (Public Art), for providing me with these photos.
Time-lapse video. View of construction of Slessor Gardens. Photos from surveillance camera on Caird Hall, set up by John Gray.
Crowd monitoring. View of Slessor Gardens.Photo from surveillance camera on Caird Hall, set up by John Gray.
View of construction of Slessor Gardens, including SNH exhibition hoardings. Photo from surveillance camera on Caird Hall, set up by John Gray.
Initially the plan (with the help of John Gray) was to set up a new surveillance camera on the Caird Hall roof, to point at the Sharing Not Hoarding exhibition site. The live feed video would have been embedded into one of the QR code portals. This would have enabled the viewers to watch themselves viewing the work. Sadly, the restrictions due to the pandemic scuppered our plan.
Photo credit: David McCulloch. Current view of SNH exhibition site at Slessor Gardens.
Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep
Slessor Gardens as surveilled space
I lived in Dundee while I was studying at DJCAD, and I regularly cut through Slessor Gardens on my way to the train station. At that point the park was new and the V&A was still under construction. It had the feel of a place under surveillance, like most construction zones do. I made Surveillance: The Paradox And The Creep poster exhibition especially for Slessor Gardens, as a surveilled space in Dundee. The theme ended up being strangely appropriate in relation to the Sharing Not Hoarding site, because the previous exhibition, A Breadth Apart (by Sekai Machache and collaborator Fiona Catherine Powell), had been vandalised in a racist attack. The man responsible for the vandalism was caught because the CCTV security cameras in the park had captured him in the act.