Welcome to the ‘Feel’ 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.
Some feel protected and some feel rejected
There are many people who feel protected by surveillance cameras in their workplace, in public buildings and on the street. However, not everyone experiences this privilege. For example, in some garment factories, where the majority of workers are women, CCTV cameras installed to protect the workers can sometimes have the “opposite effect.” In one case, “because the cameras [did] not record sound, a complaint about repeated sexual harassment by a supervisor who would say lewd things to a worker on the factory floor was not taken seriously — and was eventually dismissed.”
The increase if digital ‘workplace surveillance’ during the pandemic
Surveillance has been a part of workplace management strategy long before the the 19th Century factory floor or the 20th Century open-plan office. But according to Rachel Connolly’s article in The Guardian earlier this month, the increase of new digital tools “has taken surveillance of workers to the next level.” […] “During the pandemic, there has been a renewed sense of panic about the implications of companies monitoring their employees. Most office work has been conducted online, and surveillance methods have adapted accordingly.”
Social sorting, dataveillance and ‘Surveillance Capitalism’
In this video lecture, Professor David Lyon examines the implications of mass surveillance during (and after) the Covid-19 pandemic, and he explains how “surveillance capitalism” fits into the picture. Lyon also argues that although there has been much attention to the issue of privacy, “privacy is not the primary problem with surveillance.” Lyon brings attention to the “injustices of the misuse of data” […and] “biased algorithms” […which leads to] “social sorting.” […] “Surveillance sorts people into such categories [of class, race, gender, religion, place of origin and sexual orientation] so that the categories can be treated differently.” (Note: the sound on the mic for the introduction speaker is a bit rough in places, but David Lyon’s mic is fine).
Facial recognition technology and systemic racism
In this CBC Radio interview, Professor Ruha Benjamin and Nora Young discuss facial recognition technology in “the current climate of surveillance, and how race itself is used as a kind of technology.” […] “Far from being neutral, our technologies carry deep biases. They can support, conceal and even propagate systemic racism.” Listen to the interview (and read part of the conversation) in the Spark episode “How emerging technologies amplify racism – even when they’re intended to be neutral”
The FBI surveillance of Black Human Rights activists in America
Long before racist facial recognition technology (and other forms of “Artificial Intelligence”) entered the picture, the FBI were surveilling Black Human Rights activists in America. From 1958 – 1974 the FBI kept the writer James Baldwin under surveillance. The file that the FBI amassed was 1,884 pages long. “[It] was the largest [file] compiled on any African American activist of the Civil Rights era.” See link to the book James Baldwin: The FBI File by William J. Maxwell.
During that era, there were many more Black Civil Rights activists under FBI surveillance, including: Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B Dubois, Ella Baker, Angela Davis, Elbert Howard, Fred Hampton, Stokely Carmichael and Paul Robeson. “[More recently] the ACLU and MediaJustice [have] filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI, demanding that it turn over documents related to the modern-day surveillance of Black activists and Black-led organisations.” See link to the ACLU #PROTECTBLACKDISSENT: CAMPAIGN TO END SURVEILLANCE OF BLACK ACTIVISTS
Everyday prejudiced surveillance
Prejudiced surveillance in North America (and several other continents) is much more complex and widespread than the official state sanctioned surveillance. In his remarkable essay, “Walking While Black”, Garnette Cadogan reflects upon his life long passion for walking, and his personal experiences of navigating everyday racist surveillance & harassment on the streets of New Orleans and New York City. See link to “Walking While Black: Garnette Cadogan on the Realties of Being Black in America”