Why not?
July 11, 2013 3:48 AM   Subscribe

After a six-month hiatus, Surveillance Camera Man (previously) is back with a new video, and a site of his own. (via waxy)

There's a brief interview with him here, back when he had only just rebranded himself. It's interesting to compare comments pre- and post- Snowden.
posted by progosk (55 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I watch this, I get the overwhelming urge to push back against the retreating camera man, as if I am actually standing behind him and could prevent his escape from the angered people. Naturally, I would pick up the camera to continue filming.
posted by orme at 4:00 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome to Seattle performance artistry, which is why some people not from Seattle learn to hate Seattle.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:09 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


and a site of his own
The annotation on the video says he doesn't have a website.
posted by brokkr at 4:17 AM on July 11, 2013


This is pretty awesome. I'd imagine it would make most senators and congressmen profoundly uncomfortable to watch.
posted by GoingToShopping at 4:24 AM on July 11, 2013


True, brokkr - thegeekwire's article noted that "According to whois , the domain was registered anonymously via DomainsByProxy.com just yesterday." - this line's been removed now, for some reason.
posted by progosk at 4:27 AM on July 11, 2013


Christ, what an asshole.

That said, I hate the fact that we're giving this idiot more clicks.
posted by HuronBob at 5:23 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've long not felt comfortable with the increasing amount of surveillance that we have and will continue to have in the states. More than just the fact that it happens, I don't like that fact that there are no laws protecting us in the U.S. vs. other parts of the world, where in many cases you are supposed to protect the privacy of an individual instead for things such as google maps or Facebook, etc. I have had conversations about this with several people in the US and I've been surprised, most people don't seem bothered by this idea or indifferent (and I'm not sure why, but that is another question).

However, watching Surv dude's new youtube video; I agree 100% with Huron, this guy is an idiot and other choice terms. I don't see how disrupting people's lives will help this crusade. I noticed that when the woman challenged him, he sat there passively filming. If this was really important to him, why didn't he use words?

I'm not inclined towards violence vs. the average person, but a small part of me was cheering for one of those people to smash his camera.

I can't click on those interviews, either. The video alone (this and past ones) make my blood boil.
posted by Wolfster at 6:04 AM on July 11, 2013


Just saw a man wearing Google Glass in an airport gate area. Aside from fantasizing viscerally about removing them with extreme prejudice myself (of course I resisted) I wondered if TSA even knew what it was and half considered ratting him out to see what they'd say.

For damn sure I know I'd still be in interrogation if I walked thorough the airport security line holding an obvious video camera and filming.

Someone needs to come up with a Google Glass jamming device like they have for cell phones. I wanted to jam my fist in his teeth when the dude looked at me. And in a situation where I could have gotten away with giving the motherf@$!r a verbal beatdown, his ears would burn too much to wear them for a while.

Being surveilled induces rage in lots of people, myself included.

Just because it might be legal doesn't make it right and there are places where it could get you seriously hurt by people without my level of self-control (who are legion because mine is only barely adequate). It's bad enough the government and businesses stick cameras in your face everywhere you go. Now I have to worry about assholes like him.

I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot. Google glass assholes, just another sign of a country off the damn rails.
posted by spitbull at 6:14 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot.

You may be having an abnormal reaction to this situation.
posted by GoingToShopping at 6:23 AM on July 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


It would be different if he was always filming security guards and men in suits walking into the state house or something, but he's targeting guys who make their home in vans and people in mah-jongg parlors to provoke a reaction, and his obtuseness upon being confronted makes him seem like a bully, "Ha ha, look how mad I made these people."

In previous shows he would film a building security camera aimed at the sidewalk and then stand there looking through the lobby window to provoke a confrontation with building security, which made more sense. Then again, in previous videos he also picked on marginalized people, but in this one he isn't trying to redeem himself. I get the sense he's laughing about how mad he makes people.

Aim that shit at the powerful. Tweaking the noses of the weak without explanation doesn't raise awareness. "Yeah, I'm aware that the powers that be have me under constant surveillance. Guess what, they also take money from my bank account pretty much at will and constantly threaten me with eviction and denial of health coverage. Right now I'm talking with my brother about our father, who we buried yesterday, please go upset someone more deserving."
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:30 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


For damn sure I know I'd still be in interrogation if I walked thorough the airport security line holding an obvious video camera and filming.

Probably not.
posted by msbrauer at 6:36 AM on July 11, 2013


Try watching the video with the sound off, and imagine the camera is a drone controlled by an anonymous state actor.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:38 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


if a man approached me with a video camera - even though he's not saying anything - i would feel violated. not in your basic "stop watching me" way but in a "what the hell is this perv thinking and going to do to me" kind of way. he is taking it a step beyond mounted surveillance cameras and being very intrusive into people's personal space. i'd feel like it was street harassment and would probably respond as such.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 6:53 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised we're doing this again: of course he shouldn't speak when people challenge him, otherwise the whole point of his 'comment' (however much you may think he has engaged the wrong people in debate) is lost. NSA spying and CCTV cameras don't talk to you to explain themselves.

And so many threads I read in which people say they'd like to smash Google Glass, or beat to a pulp someone who's using an iPhone to video a song at a concert. These gadgets really seem to facilitate an outlet for fantasy violent rage.
posted by colie at 7:00 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, if he tried this where I live he'd be shot.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2013


Try watching the video with the sound off, and imagine the camera is a drone controlled by an anonymous state actor.

Or, watch it with the sound on and realize that it's some stranger invading your space, acting like some weird asshole obviously trying to fuck with you and has no respect for you as a person.

now...which is the more likely truth and which scenario should you respond to?
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Try watching the video with the sound off, and imagine the camera is a drone controlled by an anonymous state actor.

Or, watch it with the sound on and realize that it's some stranger invading your space, acting like some weird asshole obviously trying to fuck with you and has no respect for you as a person.


The difference being?
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems to be the execution of this experiment isn't honed to a t, but there are so many fascinating sides to this:

- as he mentions in the interview, the original spark came from getting close enough to record the subjects' sound; so is this where the boundary lies, where the line is being crossed? Is this where his filming goes from being anonymous descriptions (location, time, exterior appearance; metadata, as it were) of individuals in public, to being recordings of their private content?

- though he hasn't yet perfected it, the non-reaction and lack of justification on his part is of course precisely what confounds the subjects - just watching how they try to formulate a protesting reaction, you can almost see them trying to figure things out they'd never really stopped to think about;

- the viscerality of reaction to what he's doing then and there - just filming them - never seems to give way, in their reasoning, to what individuals actually do have a reasonable expection to be able to decide over, namely what he then does with the resulting video.
posted by progosk at 7:31 AM on July 11, 2013


I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot.
You may be having an abnormal reaction to this situation.


To me, surreptitious filming with Google Glass in the internet age should trouble us -- that is, Google Glass as the next level of the normalization of surveillance and uncontrolled image circulation in ordinary life. In part what's troubling is the lack of control any of us has over market/corporate decisions that are so significantly altering and shaping both our social relationships and our ineffable sense of ordinary attention and being in the world.

These aren't just cool new toys, and they should inspire us to really think hard about how we want our consciousness, our society, and our social relationships to evolve. Innovations in technologies have always changed who we are, but there really is something different now about the accelerated rate of impact techno-profitability is having on our sense of privacy and control, and on the murky relationship between our anonymity and our automatic identification.
posted by third rail at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


however much you may think he has engaged the wrong people in debate

He hasn't engaged any debate at all. That's why this performance art is a complete and utter failure. Virtually no one comes away from this connecting his assault with those actions of the Obama administration and his agencies, or those of Google and its advertising wing pushing Google Glass and other privacy-invading technologies. There's no meaningful context for his actions — just harassment that intrudes upon and violently invades personal space. (And, yes, this artist is violent, because his behavior is not consensual and it persists despite direct, repeated objections.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:34 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot. Google glass assholes, just another sign of a country off the damn rails.

Huh. I reserve this level of ire for people who get to the front of the security line and are all "I have to empty my pockets? I can't bring my bottle of water? I have to take off my ten-eye Docs? Since when?!?"
posted by rtha at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2013


The difference being?

one is true and the other one isn't? (as pertains to this video)
posted by HuronBob at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I come from a perspective that is very suspicious of police and government security agencies in general, but I have to pipe up and say that in some cases a surveillance camera is the least bad option in the limited toolkit local governments and cash-strapped communities have to address specific problems in small high-traffic areas.

I sit on a community council board in a part of my town that is considered a fairly rough area. We have, among the other usual problems of drugs and gangs and theft, a problem on some of our main thoroughfares involving groups of youths that congregate at bus stops, or in parks and generally act disorderly, with incidents of property damage, mobbing stores, robbing and roughing up passers-by.

The city is doing a really good job of addressing the larger issue of idle youths and kids out past curfew, but we still needed another component to try to discourage and catch the bad apples who were turning this stretch of street and park area into a no-mans land intermittently. The city did not have enough cash to station a cop in each of the hotspots fulltime - that would be silly and kind of sinister anyway - who wants to hang out in a park with a cop staring at you al the time? So we, the community council, worked with the city and got a grant to buy and install cameras watching over a few key bus stops and two parks in the neighborhood. The neighbors were happy - no one likes cameras by themselves but in this case it seems to have helped with the specific phenomenon - the kids who hang in the park are aware they're being recorded and don't get quite as stupid, and those who do can be identified and redirected (we have some alternative programs to keep minor offendors out of the juvenile justice system).

The cameras do cost money over time, so when the dynamics change and problems shift to other areas, we can move the cameras as well or retire them altogether. The recordings are kept by the local PD for some reasonable amount of time - storage ain't free, either - and are mainly used for investigations after the fact but the cameras can be viewed realtime by dispatchers and used to provide data to arriving officers as needed.

On another front, there was a recent incident where a assault outside a bar resulted in arrests. Some days later the DA requested the bar provide the CC footage of the incident, but the owners said the recordings from that day had already been over-written because they only keep a week's worth of recordings. This was a) a direct violation of the terms of their liquor license (which stipulates they keep recordings for 40 days or some such) and b) possibly an evasion by the bar owners unwilling to provide evidence against the perps. So because these owners are not providing the footage, a case against a violent person may be harder to prove, (or an innocent person may be getting prosecuted because the video evidence exonerating them was destroyed). When these owners come back before the council requesting renewal of their license I'll be seriously hassling them about this incident.

All this is just to say, sometimes cameras are useful and necessary, and the narrative linking them to some kind of star-chamber panopticon shadow government is unhelpful.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:57 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I get the problematic aspects of this, but still - do you think the cop who shot Oscar Grant would have even faced a trial if it weren't for dozens of people having cameras ?

The same with the Boston bombers - they were caught out because cameras tracked all of their movements throughout the crowd.

I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot. Google glass assholes, just another sign of a country off the damn rails.


There should be an onion on your belt, and don't forget to shake your cane...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:05 AM on July 11, 2013


> Being surveilled induces rage in lots of people, myself included. It's bad enough the government and businesses stick cameras in your face everywhere you go. Now I have to worry about assholes like him. I had serious fantasies of how it would have felt to grind his $2000 eyewear under the heel of my cowboy boot. Google glass assholes, just another sign of a country off the damn rails.

I agree that our society is too quick to carelessly jump on shiny new technologies like Google Glass before understanding the ramifications to privacy.

On the other hand, I'm totally confused as to why, if you're driven to violent rage by surveillance, you would consider ratting this guy out to the TSA. That's the side you're going to pick? The level of surveillance afforded to government and businesses is far more dangerous and insulting to private citizens than this dude in his Google Glasses.
posted by desuetude at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I think in this new video this guy is mostly trolling, I still feel that this is interesting only because his videotaping is making himself accountable to those being filmed. There is no accountability to a stationary surveillance camera; if you yell at a camera demanding that it immediately cease filming you, you'll eventually be shipped off to the insane asylum. His "art" (or whatever you want to call it) challenges the normalization of surveillance, so I think it's a worthwhile project.

What do you think these people's reactions would be if he was simply wearing Google Glass (and the participants were unaware of their being filmed)? Does surreptitious filming make it okay? (Of course, I have a feeling they'd be just as pissed at this guy for merely barging into their space...)
posted by antonymous at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2013


A private citizen surreptitiously using google glass to film you or your family in the age of automatic face recognition does indeed have disturbing possibilities. Many people really don't want to give up the potential to walk around anonymously, without their images identified and circulated online forever.

The TSA is related to this concern in terms of the growing normalization of surveillance, but is also distinct from the potential negative reactions one can have to being filmed privately. Obviously the TSA has more overt power than Google Glass guy, but there are connections still, treating Google Glass as a resistance to government surveillance is not unlike the argument that since the police have guns, everyone on the street should be allowed to conceal carry.
posted by third rail at 8:35 AM on July 11, 2013


A private citizen surreptitiously using google glass to film you or your family in the age of automatic face recognition does indeed have disturbing possibilities.

It's not just google glass, and it's only "surreptitious" at the moment because google glass is so new. I stood in line for coffee not long ago and there was a guy in line who was still wearing his bike helmet and it had a go-pro on it. I was at a bunch of the recent Pride weekend things here and I can say with confidence that images of me are highly likely to be on random strangers' facebook/flickr/picasa/etc. pages - not because they were explicitly taking a photo of *me*, but because I was just in the frame.

I don't think that google glass and its privacy implications are something to handwave away, but they're not all that new, either, and the implications are not peculiar to them.
posted by rtha at 8:57 AM on July 11, 2013


I don't think that google glass and its privacy implications are something to handwave away, but they're not all that new, either, and the implications are not peculiar to them.

Of course that's true, but not minding it too much because it's not all that new/ change is incremental is actually how things become normalized and how we become desensitized to our objections.
posted by third rail at 9:06 AM on July 11, 2013


Yeah, to be clearer, I'm not trying to make a point that we shouldn't mind. More that [new tech shiny thing] shouldn't carry all the GRAR of what is quite a widespread problem or concern that has been around a lot longer than the new shiny thing.
posted by rtha at 9:10 AM on July 11, 2013


rtha, I think just the opposite - the accountability of the videographer enables the outrage we didn't have an outlet for when security cameras slowly went up everywhere. So I don't consider Glass a GRAR-inducing device, but rather a GRAR-enabling device.
posted by antonymous at 9:20 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, maybe? (I will drink more coffee and ponder this.)
posted by rtha at 9:24 AM on July 11, 2013


The accountability he potentially offers is, of course, problematic (not least because he runs away when threatened), but it is another key to what's being exposed here.

I'm intrigued by how the entirely peaceful act of filming triggers/enables the kinds of reactions he gets from those filmed; what seems to rile folks most are the motives they suspect he has - a suspicion compounded by the one non-motive he offers: "why not?".

Equally interesting is how the subjects' reactions are almost surpassed in strength by reactions from mere viewers of his videos. My immediate thought (like a couple of his subjects) wasn't so much "how dare he" than: what would be an effective counterstrategy if faced by this guy? (And then, by extension: if faced by the other kind of surveillance?)
posted by progosk at 9:53 AM on July 11, 2013


"do you think the cop who shot Oscar Grant would have even faced a trial if it weren't for dozens of people having cameras ? ...The same with the Boston bombers..."

Interesting comparison, because when there is street CCTV footage (either privately or state maintained) that implicates cops in bad stuff, it often goes missing or is unavailable somehow (see the murder of Ian Tomlinson by UK riot pigs for example). The Oscar Grant stuff was from ordinary people with phones, which is totally different to CCTV.
posted by colie at 10:05 AM on July 11, 2013


Interesting comparison, because when there is street CCTV footage (either privately or state maintained) that implicates cops in bad stuff, it often goes missing or is unavailable somehow (see the murder of Ian Tomlinson by UK riot pigs for example). The Oscar Grant stuff was from ordinary people with phones, which is totally different to CCTV.

That's just it. Cameras exist in everyone's pocket - and some future historian will probably be able to piece together my comings and goings just from other people's photos of me. relevant xkcd

That CCTV footage gets disappeared is a political issue, though. There is no technological solution to prevent the footage from being taken or for it to be used correctly.

This guy is annoying people, but he's annoying them with the technical aspects, but not actually confronting them with the policy ones.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2013


not actually confronting them with the policy ones.

Not sure how artists might confront people with policy issues, but if they did, I have a feeling everyone would ignore it and there would not be threads like this about it.
posted by colie at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2013


I'm intrigued by how the entirely peaceful act of filming triggers/enables the kinds of reactions he gets from those filmed...

Even without a camera, walking up to someone and staring at them unrelentingly without comment is considered an aggressive act (in the United States), one that we're taught not to do from early childhood. So "entirely peaceful" isn't an accurate depiction of the act in question.

To make it more vivid: consider a woman standing on a subway platform at rush hour. A man walks up within a few feet, stands and stares directly at her face, and refuses to stop as long as she remains on the subway platform. Would you consider this an "entirely peaceful" act?
posted by davejay at 11:12 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess what I'm saying is, it isn't just the camera that's putting people off. If someone walked up to you and stared at you, refusing to stop, and only offered "why not?" when you asked or told him to stop, would you think he was a pillar of the community who should be embraced as a productive member of society, or a creeper/danger?
posted by davejay at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, well, but. It's Art. And it's darn good social commentary, because the eye atop the pyramid is *not* monitoring the most powerful because they do not like to bear scrutiny. Should this be considered normal, acceptable behavior? Absolutely not. Should it be illegal for laypeople to film in public, for example members of the police force? Probably not, either.
posted by Mooseli at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2013


All this is just to say, sometimes cameras are useful and necessary, and the narrative linking them to some kind of star-chamber panopticon shadow government is unhelpful.

Judging from recent news reports, we have the panopticon and star chamber already. We're just trying to avoid the shadow government from forming.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


avoid -> prevent ... gah i suck
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2013


"It's art!" is the last bastion of the depraved scum asshole who not only breaks social norms under that guise but does it to people who are so homeless and down on their luck they are digging through the garbage. Fuck this guy and any non-point he has never explicitly made.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 11:55 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"depraved scum asshole who ... breaks social norms"
posted by colie at 12:05 PM on July 11, 2013


Now maybe try reading the whole sentence.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 12:09 PM on July 11, 2013


...do you think the cop who shot Oscar Grant would have even faced a trial if it weren't for dozens of people having cameras ?

The same with the Boston bombers - they were caught out because cameras tracked all of their movements throughout the crowd.


well obviously they probably wouldn't have been caught - but so what. So they may not have been caught - it wouldn't be the end of the world. People commit crimes all the time and don't get caught. Catching them doesn't magically make the crime disappear.

Is the successful capture of a couple of criminals really sufficient justification for constant surveillance?
posted by mary8nne at 12:17 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the reaction if he got a bright blue jumper with the words, in large yellow type, "Civilian Surveillance Project" with a URL to a page where all the videos were posted were archived. Maybe a slogan on back "So you can tell your side of the story" that positions it as a public interest project.

A thin veneer of officiality to the program would make the reactions a lot more interesting.
posted by bswinburn at 12:24 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the successful capture of a couple of criminals really sufficient justification for constant surveillance?

A) You're missing the point of surveillance cameras, which is primarily providing a visual deterrent for misbehavior.
B) You could remove the last two words from that question and argue just as speciously against ANY crime-prevention or law-enforcement measure, program, or technique that anyone finds remotely objectionable, inconvenient or offensive. We're not talking about "a couple of criminals" having been captured. I don't have the figures in front of me but I believe I've read that camera footage plays a role in solving hundreds of robberies and other serious crimes each year. If you think catching and punishing individual crooks is pointless because, hey, there's still crooks out there, then I remind you that the perfect is the enemy of the good.
C) I can tell you from personal experience that you point a camera at an area with a history of antisocial behavior, presto, the problem DOES "magically" go away to a huge extent. Vandalism, fighting, public urination, drug dealing, open drug use, aggressive panhandling, muggings and assaults: These are real problems in real neighborhoods and they make real people's streets and parks a hell of a lot more hostile and unusable than a couple well-pointed cameras.
It's all very well to complain about loss of privacy (and there IS a discussion to be had about where the proper balance lies) but there are decent people in my area who'd really like to walk their kids around without worrying about seeing knuckleheads shooting up or fighting. These decent folks WANT to think a cop's watching. For my part I'd like to think that when I go down to the gas station that, if I get shot when I walk in on a robbery, the cops'll be able to catch the a-hole who killed me because the whole thing's on tape. Cameras are an effective tool at both preventing and solving crimes.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2013


I guess what I'm saying is, it isn't just the camera that's putting people off.

Well, while obviously the idea is to infringe on what others expect to be their personal/private sphere, although the infringing part is similar to someone standing too close (and it would elicit reactions even without them staring), it's a little misleading to take the camera out of the equation. Just like a photo camera can be a justification for unexpected behaviour on behalf of the shooter, here the camera has the ambiguous role of buffer (a person directly engaging you at close range would probably feel more immediately threatening) but with an imagined, potentially nefarious purpose. Without getting too theoretical about it, the option to calmly ignore him (which he describes as being the most precisely useless response for his purpose), or to outlast his patience with a palm put in front of the lens, is a measured peaceful response available to all of his subjects. But often enough, this isn't what comes out of them, and what that projects about people's expectations of their privacy and their public rights is, well, interesting.

Also: always curious when a Metafilter thread really veers from where you expect it to go.
posted by progosk at 1:41 PM on July 11, 2013


the problem DOES "magically" go away to a huge extent.

Not exactly. The erected a 'Crime Camera' at 16th Street BART in SF. They did a study of how it affected crime patterns. Everything just moved one block over out of view of the camera.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:22 PM on July 11, 2013


You're obviously going to get mixed results in different contexts and there is a huge extent to which EVERY targeted anticrime strategy results in criminal activity relocating to other venues - cops call this "pushing down bubbles" (like under poorly laid wallpaper) - but that only underscores the deterrent effect of the camera's presence.
Public surveillance cameras are obviously not in themselves a comprehensive public safety strategy, but they are a critical part of a broader set of tools and approaches.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 2:34 PM on July 11, 2013


...it's a little misleading to take the camera out of the equation. Just like a photo camera can be a justification for unexpected behaviour on behalf of the shooter, here the camera has the ambiguous role of buffer (a person directly engaging you at close range would probably feel more immediately threatening) but with an imagined, potentially nefarious purpose. Without getting too theoretical about it, the option to calmly ignore him (which he describes as being the most precisely useless response for his purpose), or to outlast his patience with a palm put in front of the lens, is a measured peaceful response available to all of his subjects. But often enough, this isn't what comes out of them, and what that projects about people's expectations of their privacy and their public rights is, well, interesting.

The reason I took the camera out of the equation for a bit is precisely to point out that, if the camera were not there, the people's response to this person's behavior looks a lot more like you'd expect.

Additionally, your descriptions of "measured peaceful response[s]" presupposes that such behavior as observed is (a) an accurate reflection of the target's mental state, and (b) safe for the target to execute.

A target calmly ignoring him is not calm on the inside; it is stressful to remain civil and ignore the person who is actively and diligently not being civil to you. Acting like an ass to someone, then judging them harshly for refusing to pretend that you're not being an ass is...well, being even more of an ass.

The palm in the lens approach is even worse, because it is actually an escalation of the situation; if you don't believe that, talk to all the celebrities who have cameras shoved in their faces who try to put their palms in the lens, end up touching the camera and then get into trouble for it. Ditto the people who have escalated a situation (intentionally or otherwise) by using the "talk to the hand" palm.

So it's very damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't, right? You can remain calm and try to ignore him -- the very thing that people on average do every day regarding the surveillance they are under, by the way -- and so he gets to keep on being a dick and you don't get any privacy, you can block his camera's point of view and risk escalating the situation, which doesn't stop him from recording your sounds and requires you to accept the escalation risk + your hand is now occupied in blocking his view for the duration -- or you can call him on his being an ass and then get judged harshly for not making those other choices. All because he's decided that being a prick is art.

Sorry, but at some point you have to accept that being "provocative" doesn't automatically making something artistic or important. All this guy is doing is acting like a jerk, then professing to be fascinated that people don't respond politely to him. SURPRISE.
posted by davejay at 3:59 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and provoking people into conversations about how to interpret his inappropriate activities doesn't automatically make his activities into art, either. If it did, then anything doing anything bad that provokes conversation anywhere, for any reason, would be art, too. Just think, you could make art by walking around with no pants, or stealing things, or smacking people in the back of the head, then claiming it was performance art to provoke conversations about social norms. Yay!
posted by davejay at 4:03 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since he doesn't actually choose to present this as art, that's not really an issue to call him on, I think.

Nor would it be reasonable to expect people to react to his filming "politely" - still, though, the buttons he has chosen to push offer some peculiar insights. Rather than write it off to a poor show of character on his behalf, it seems to me that he's exploring what exactly we hold "appropriate" to really mean in this specific context, public filming. The extent to which this is done for direct effect isn't all that obvious, it feels more like a series of essays on a theme. Yes, it isn't consensual, but... that's clearly a big part of the point.
posted by progosk at 4:24 PM on July 11, 2013


Google glass assholes, just another sign of a country off the damn rails.

This country is going to the dogs.
posted by homunculus at 10:13 PM on July 11, 2013


How to Block a Surveillance Camera: A DIY Art Tuturial from Ai Weiwei
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on July 31, 2013


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