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October 29, 2012 11:06 PM   Subscribe

Surveillance Camera Man (SL Vimeo) is a man who acts like a surveillance camera. However, he is not ceiling-mounted like most surveillance cameras. He takes video of people in public and private places. Most people have a problem with him, creating conflict. One person actually likes him.
posted by ignignokt (68 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
This guy needs his camera shoved up his ass. GoPro Isaac Asimov edition.
posted by phaedon at 11:21 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


i like this guy. he's irritating as fuck, but he makes it harder for people to stay in denial about the degree to which they're being monitored by similarly anonymous and unaccountable strangers on a daily basis.
posted by facetious at 11:23 PM on October 29, 2012 [28 favorites]


Part 2 & 3 are on Vimea (linked by OP). Part 1 is on Youtube
posted by schwa at 11:24 PM on October 29, 2012


The stuff where he is standing on the sidewalk is fine and even an education for people about public photography. The stuff where he seems to walk into non-public spaces and shove his camera in folks faces is uncool.
posted by LarryC at 11:24 PM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


"You aren't very nice. Why would I want to join your cult if you aren't nice?"
posted by LarryC at 11:26 PM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


The stuff where he seems to walk into non-public spaces and shove his camera in folks faces is uncool.

He's in the U.S. It will work itself out pretty naturally.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


People rationalize most public cameras away because they are "security cameras", for ya know...security. The question is not so much what he is doing but why. People are ok with distinction based on motive. For most people it is intent which makes public photography good or bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:34 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think we've all see documentaries where someone says to the camera operator "what are you filming" and they say "we are making a documentary" and suddenly it is cool. That is what is perplexing about this guy, he offers no explanation at all.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:38 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, yeah, ok, surveillance is a problem and we're largely oblivious.

On the other hand, I couldn't watch very much of this because he seems to be going around being kind of a raging asshole.
posted by brennen at 11:41 PM on October 29, 2012


People rationalize most public cameras away because they are "security cameras", for ya know...security.


Which is not necessarily a bad and evil thing. The man all watching your every move.



I spend a lot of time on both watching cameras and on them, and son, I tell you what. 99.9978% of what happens on security cameras is excruciatingly boring and the rest is blurry and pixellated.




OH HEAVENS TO MERGATROYD that dude is annoying. Surely there is a way to Awaken the Sheeple without being an ass. Right?
posted by louche mustachio at 11:43 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, yeah, ok, surveillance is a problem and we're largely oblivious.


Well , it's a problem until you want footage of your attacker.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:45 PM on October 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's amazing, truly, how many people assume that they have a right (a RIGHT!) to not be filmed by other people. Or that they can decline permission and not be filmed. Or that other people are rational actors with whom they can converse and convince. Or that other people are empathetic.

This guy is just behaving as far away from people's expectations of how other people behave as possible. I can't bring myself to praise him for doing this cause he _is_ annoying as hell, but that's of course the whole point.
posted by haykinson at 11:48 PM on October 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I too would like to grief people at a Children's Research Institute, that sounds like time well spent!
posted by P.o.B. at 11:50 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


ignignokt: "However, he is not ceiling-mounted like most surveillance cameras."

Well, that rules out all the ceiling cat jokes I came in here to make. I was hoping he was a jazz fan, too.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:56 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm not altogether sure it's exactly the camera which is the problem. If he were standing staring conspicuously, wouldn't that become a problem too? The camera helps to make it conspicuous, but binoculars might be as bad or worse in that respect.
posted by Segundus at 12:04 AM on October 30, 2012


Well , it's a problem until you want footage of your attacker.

The odds suggest that you won't get it, even if there is a camera present.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:08 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


he is not ceiling-mounted like most surveillance cameras.

So its an upskirt thing then, right?
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:09 AM on October 30, 2012


I love this.
posted by The Monkey at 12:25 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


watched all three of em... captivating viewing. I'm guessing the guy behind the camera has a decent amount of physical prowess based on the responses (or lack of) of his "audience".
posted by spacediver at 12:54 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's for your own safety.
posted by pracowity at 1:10 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I spend a lot of time on both watching cameras and on them, and son, I tell you what. 99.9978% of what happens on security cameras is excruciatingly boring and the rest is blurry and pixellated.

Sounds like a pretty good argument against having them everywhere to me!
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:29 AM on October 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: You aren't very nice. Why would I want to join your cult if you aren't nice?
posted by knile at 1:37 AM on October 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


My initial reaction was, fuck this guy, turn it off. Instead I let it go, and wound up entranced, especially when he approached the two guys playing cards in the SUV. But I again lost interest when he went back to the scientology place. Now it's playing in the background as I write this comment.

Basically I don't know how I feel about this video other than, it's better than 99% of television, but that's not saying much. Carry on surveillance camera man.
posted by mannequito at 2:21 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those people felt targeted, understandably. That's not what cctv does.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 2:36 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


He should sit in the same sort of place where surveillance cameras are usually mounted (maybe sitting up on a platform mounted to a wall or pole) and take pictures of people.
posted by pracowity at 3:49 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The big thing I got out of this is that now I know how to get a table at a cafe if they're all currently taken.
posted by markkraft at 4:01 AM on October 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Those people felt targeted, understandably. That's not what cctv does.

But facial recognition technology is nearly perfected now. The cameras are already on motorised brackets. You can be targeted when the state wants to target you, and has successfully convinced the populace that these things are just there 'for your safety.'

Attend any kind of demonstration and you've got the police right in your face with the cameras.

I've never seen anyone dramatise the issue as well as this guy. I particularly like how he offers no explanation but just mumbles.
posted by colie at 4:32 AM on October 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


PJMcPrettypants: Those people felt targeted, understandably. That's not what cctv does.

Well, that's not necessarily true. All the CCTV cameras mounted in the centre of the town I live in (and there's a fuckton of them) swivel, and are controlled by the humans watching the screens. Walking home very late, I sometimes notice the cameras following me. And hey, half the time cameras are mounted in a bowl of one-way glass - how do you know they aren't following you? The difference with this guy is merely that the targeting is that much more obvious.
posted by Dysk at 4:32 AM on October 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I always liked the old Candid Camera show. They set up weird situations, and people did weird things, all the while they'd tape them with a hidden camera. And then they'd do the reveal: "Smile, You're on Candid Camera".

That was a great show. Here are three examples:
  • Flying phone booth
  • Elevator psychology
  • Bowling alley

    Now I take videos with my phone and record people doing weird things and they just complain about it.

    Cameras aren't fun anymore.

    I blame technology.

  • posted by twoleftfeet at 4:39 AM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Deep in the dark ages of the internet, there was a guy who went around with a video camera on all the time. He routinely got into conflicts in stores from the management. His argument was "you're recording me without my permission, why can't I record you without your permission?" I don't think he ever succeeded in being allowed to continue.

    Maybe this guy is making a point, but it's lost in him being a dick or at least well out of the social norm. For example, I play in several large music ensembles and if an adult came up behind my stand while I was playing (with or without a camera), I'd be irritated because I'm concentrating.
    posted by plinth at 5:16 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Those people felt targeted, understandably. That's not what cctv does.

    It's cute that people still believe CCTV isn't for targeting specific people, or specific types of people.

    I totally get why the subjects in this video are freaked out. What's interesting about this project is that they should be just as freaked out by nearly all surveillance, and yet it's a part of life. The guy eating a sandwich is a perfect example. Some anonymous person in a dark office is just as likely to be watching his every bite as the guy two feet in front of him.

    As a piece of art and commentary, this is superb. Yes, the guy is being a dick, and I take the point here that you're being treated exactly like this nearly continuously by unaccountable corporations.
    posted by odinsdream at 5:27 AM on October 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


    I've adapted to the reality of camera monitoring. I know they're watching me. So I sell advertising. When I go into a bank, there's a security guard watching me on closed-circuit TV, and my sponsors reach him because I'm wearing a shirt featuring a product that appeals to bank security guards. When I drive my car into an intersection, they have a camera that can tell if I ran a red light. I stop my car, get out, and point to the emblems on my vehicle which advertise products that especially appeal to people who monitor these kinds of traffic infractions.

    Don't think we aren't watching you, people who watch us! And we're selling advertisements!

    Every time the Google Street View car comes by I run outside with my Yahoo sign. The last time they drove into a ditch just to avoid it, but that ad still appears in the police report.
    posted by twoleftfeet at 5:46 AM on October 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Isn't the number one rule ofsecurity-camera-club that people shouldn't know or notice that they're being security-camera'd?
    posted by blue_beetle at 6:06 AM on October 30, 2012


    But facial recognition technology is nearly perfected now.

    Yep. If you're bothered some random guy holding a camera, you should be absolutely freaked out about the cameras mounted on walls. Random guy is just random guy, maybe just going home to wank while visions of your sugar plums dance in his head, but those walls hold enough money to buy expensive face recognition and database access. And is there anything stopping businesses from tracking license plates at drive-through businesses, parking lots, etc., and coordinating that data with credit card purchases and the like?

    On the bright side, at least you won't have to remember PINs anymore. Your bank machine will greet you by name before you even get a chance to insert your bank card. "Hey, Jeff. Back again? You're really blowing through the cash this week. And according to the cash register at the liquor store around the corner, it's not exactly going towards baby food and diapers."
    posted by pracowity at 6:16 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Isn't the number one rule of security-camera-club that people shouldn't know or notice that they're being security-camera'd?

    No, conspicuous dummy cameras are very prevalent as well.
    posted by colie at 6:17 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    And is there anything stopping businesses from tracking license plates at drive-through businesses, parking lots, etc., and coordinating that data with credit card purchases and the like?

    I was recently at the ASIS conference, which is a big show for companies in the security industry. There was this amazing demonstration technology for license plate capture - it was a big wheel like on The Price Is Right, filled with license plates, spinning at Ludicrous Speed. At the other end was a camera pointed at it, hooked up to a computer monitor that was spitting out OCR'ed images and the associated license plate number for every single plate.

    There were about.. oh, five hundred vendors for CCTV technology with thousands of integration and data sharing options, IR cameras, historical analysis, facial recognition, etc. It's not a question of whether the technology exists - it definitely does. It's just a matter of who has the money to deploy it.
    posted by odinsdream at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I think this guy is sort of a dick. He may be getting people to question the prevalence of security cameras, but he is essentially harassing folks. People who may already be acutely aware of the many ways that they are being surveilled. If he maybe let them in on what he is trying to accomplish by this behavior, that would be different. Instead, he is just walking around being a jerk to strangers.
    posted by orme at 6:35 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Metafilter: It's for your own safety.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:08 AM on October 30, 2012


    No, conspicuous dummy cameras are very prevalent as well.

    As well as concealed cameras. At my workplace a decade ago we had obvious (and functional) security cameras at the front and back doors... as well as a couple of others that were to all appearances ceiling-mounted smoke detectors.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:11 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Guy sounds like Tao Lin
    posted by intelligentless at 7:19 AM on October 30, 2012


    I like this idea a lot, but he seems to have gone a couple of places that clearly do have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The game room the Chinese guys were in, for sure I think. The car? I dunno about that one.

    He mentions it once, but I'd really liked to have seen him eventually have conversations with these people about how they feel about the security cameras all around them that are doing the same thing.
    posted by cmoj at 7:52 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I've never seen anyone dramatise the issue as well as this guy. I particularly like how he offers no explanation but just mumbles.

    He might be dramatizing one thing for the viewer of this video, but what he's dramatizing for the people in the video appears to be that he's an asshole.

    I'm not actually sure this is productive.
    posted by brennen at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "You even look like a dumb fuck!"
    posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:17 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    pracowity: It's for your own safety.

    I'm with you - I think he would have made more sense to people if he'd said, "This is a security camera." Especially if it was mounted in one of those little drab beige security camera covers. On top of his head.

    The fact that he's holding and looking through a video camera allows people to ignore any point he might be making. Or, what brennen said.
    posted by sneebler at 10:59 AM on October 30, 2012


    The fact that he's holding and looking through a video camera allows people to ignore any point he might be making.

    That would be the case if he was making the point for the benefit of the select few people he actually bumped into on the day (and I have sympathy for the security guards and working people who are just trying to get through the day).

    But the video is made for the wider benefit of viewers like us on the web, and so the participants are being slightly exploited to make the point. Obviously we all have to decide where the line is, and I don't think he crossed it.

    If he'd dressed up like a silly security camera it would have had no edge to it. He needed to be slightly confusing and menacing for those people to react.
    posted by colie at 11:09 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I loved this - sure the guy is acting like a jerk, but by his presence alone he's still more accountable than a security camera. It was jarring to hear what people's expectations of privacy were, knowing how many cameras were probably watching them throughout the day. I know I've stopped doing some goofy things like singing or dancing in an empty elevator, simply because I know I'm being watched and judged.
    posted by antonymous at 11:36 AM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I'm not actually sure this is productive.

    As colie notes, he's doing it to drive home a point to his relatively large video audience, not to convert one or two people he runs into on the street. There's nothing he could do to get the security employees at one of those buildings to turn off their cameras or change their surveillance policies.
    posted by pracowity at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Watching this video does not make me think about the increasing level of surveillance in our society. It makes me think about the increasing number of passive-aggressive twerps who think they can justify being inconsiderate with "Hey, I'm not breaking any of the specified rules". I'm sure reading MetaFilter has increased my sensitivity to this.
    posted by benito.strauss at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2012


    In other surveillance news: The Government Secretly Spied On You? Prove It! The feds' defense in a landmark Supreme Court case is a catch-22.
    posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Metafilter: the rest is blurry and pixellated.
    posted by herbplarfegan at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2012


    There is a clear difference between a surveillance camera coldly perched atop a pole or on a ceiling vs. a dude carrying a camera and pointing it at people. One is easy to ignore because who knows if anyone is actually looking at the live footage or the feed - or if it is even on. But the other deals with the physical presence of someone who is looking at us invading our privacy. I would argue that if you took the camera away and he just stood their starting at people he would still be annoying.

    What's most interesting to me is the way he is able to continue shooting even after pleas for him to stop. That shows he is either not mentally well or really disciplined in being an ass to make his point, which in my view is just pure provocation.
    posted by Rashomon at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    That would be the case if he was making the point for the benefit of the select few people he actually bumped into on the day (and I have sympathy for the security guards and working people who are just trying to get through the day).

    If I were one of those security guards I think I'd probably turn to face away from the camera and start monologuing.

    "The city was restless that day. My morning joe wasn't sittin so easy, and that was the least of my worries. Two dead, four missing. Just another day... or was it?"
    posted by odinsdream at 1:02 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    One is easy to ignore because who knows if anyone is actually looking at the live footage or the feed - or if it is even on. But the other deals with the physical presence of someone who is looking at us invading our privacy.

    You're in Opposite World.

    'Who knows' if anyone is actually looking at the footage (or recording it or sharing it or storing it or analysing it or sending it to Dick Cheney) is precisely the point about govt CCTV surveillance. The more you don't regard it as something knowable, the more open to abuse it becomes.

    The 'physical presence' of some hipster right in front of you with a camera is, by contrast, pretty easy to deal with...?
    posted by colie at 1:27 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Metafilter: He needed to be slightly confusing and menacing for those people to react.
    posted by sneebler at 3:07 PM on October 30, 2012


    One is easy to ignore because who knows if anyone is actually looking at the live footage or the feed - or if it is even on. But the other deals with the physical presence of someone who is looking at us invading our privacy.

    Yeah, but that's the point. It's the panopticon. If you don't know whether you're being watched, but you could be watched, then you must behave as if you were being watched.
    posted by cmoj at 3:10 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    This had so much potential to be both an interesting commentary on the surveillance state, until he started entering private property. Which he does, and does, and does some more.
    posted by rollbiz at 9:23 PM on October 30, 2012


    Also, if he has a message, he's utterly failing to articulate it, which kind of defeats the point.
    posted by rollbiz at 9:28 PM on October 30, 2012


    But the video is made for the wider benefit of viewers like us on the web, and so the participants are being slightly exploited to make the point.

    I humbly submit my suspicion that that anybody who is going to get that based on this video already gets it, and all anybody else is going to notice is still "asshole".
    posted by brennen at 9:38 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Imagine he wasn't a man with a camera, but just a video camera up in a corner somewhere. All these people could walk up to it and say "Why are you taking my video?" "Stop filming" "If you don't stop, I'll call the police." And the camera on the pole wouldn't say anything back.

    Total dick, that camera up in the corner.
    posted by eye of newt at 11:10 PM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I am oddly overwhelmed with the notion that the camera man is, in fact, Dr. Katz's son.

    I like the video. But I'm a photographer and I am shy about shooting people. I don't like the complications. Some folks get rude about being in photographs. When is it okay for me to do likewise, and tell people to GTFO of my frame? The worse case though was some jackass that had an attitude because I was shooting in front of his house. But his house was across the street from my location, and then across water. I was on a boat, and his house was purely background (the photo was a 360-degree panorama). He's in the shot, standing on the bank, his arms akimbo like some dickhead.
    posted by Goofyy at 6:11 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    CCTV increases people's sense of anxiety: Caretakers and community workers are the way to improve safety in deprived communities, not more technology
    posted by homunculus at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Court OKs warrantless use of hidden surveillance cameras: In latest case to test how technological developments alter Americans' privacy, federal court sides with Justice Department on police use of concealed surveillance cameras on private property.
    posted by homunculus at 3:21 PM on October 31, 2012


    Judge prods FBI over future Internet surveillance plans
    posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on November 5, 2012


    I couldn't watch very much of this because he seems to be going around being kind of a raging asshole.

    That's the most interesting thing to me. The only thing that makes him a "raging asshole" is the camera. All he says is "I'm just taking a video" and other passive non-responses.

    Total dick, that camera up in the corner.

    Exactly.

    I loved this - sure the guy is acting like a jerk, but by his presence alone he's still more accountable than a security camera.

    Exactly. People don't consider that anyone is watching those security cameras, but they most certainly are. Most likely they are laughing at you.
    posted by mrgrimm at 12:30 PM on November 6, 2012


    This is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Go surveillance man!
    posted by telstar at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2012


    The only thing that makes him a "raging asshole" is the camera.

    Where do you get that? If some dude just walked into my class, or my study room, and stared at me, and only responded to questions with "I'm just looking", and wouldn't go leave when asked, he'd still be a raging asshole.
    posted by benito.strauss at 2:02 PM on November 6, 2012


    And that camera installed in your classroom, which also won't leave when asked, is also a raging asshole.

    But for some reason it doesn't bother you. It should bother you more, because at least the man leaves after a few minutes.

    The camera, however, is always watching.
    posted by eye of newt at 9:00 PM on November 6, 2012


    In other news: Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear a School-Issued RFID Tracker
    posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2012


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