Surveillance Camera Players

Public spectacle in front of surveillance cameras


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GB United Kingdom


About the project Edit

The Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) is a New York-based group founded in 1996 in by Bill Brown which underlines the omnipresence of surveillance camera players, private or public, in cities. They create city maps on which surveillance cameras location are pinpoint and organize city tours. They also stage various plays in public spaces, in front of surveillance cameras, their first one being Alfred Jarry’s "Ubu Roi" on December 10 1996 at the 14th Street-Union Square Subway station. They have performed other famous works such as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm.

Their primary purpose is to create a public spectacle in order to get people to question the role surveillance plays in their lives. These performances may be witnessed by the public, yet the actual recordings of these performances remain inaccessible. However, in certain countries, it is possible to get access to the video tapes of these spontaneous performances under the public access to information law.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Surveillance Camera Players uses the art in a form of a creative protest for the right to private life protection in relation to the American constitutional right. SCP are recognized one of the main innovators of an art form called surveillance art. Surveillance Art is the use of technology intended to record human behavior in a way that offers commentary on the process of surveillance or the technology used to surveil.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

By using surveillance art, the group provides some type of critical response to the rise of surveillance by various authorities and the technology used to achieve it, especially when dealing with issues of security and enforcing laws.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Surveillance Camera Players initiative has a strong scalability potential. The group has performed in various cities in North America such as Jersey City, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Montreal as well as in England, Austria, Spain, Italy, and Holland. This form of art is also replicable by other groups. The SCP has a wide following around the world and has even spawned sister groups in Arizona, California, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, and Turkey suggesting how the issue of surveillance is one which transcends nationalities and cultures, bringing people together to make one synonymous public statement. The scalability is also facilitated by the fact that this type of performance imply very little costs (website maintenance and white boards and black pens).

Surveillance Art can also be reproduced through different artistic channels. It manifests itself in many different forms, from short films to architecture.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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