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Previous | Next :: Cabs Rolling to JFK with Empire State Building behind : Queens : NYC | May 25, 2010, 8:30 pm

Cabs Rolling to JFK with Empire State Building behind : Queens : NYC
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I got up at 4-30AM and rolled out of London. It was like the old days driving to a job out of town. But when I started driving the difference between now and back in the day when I used to this all the time (before I moved to the States) became apparent. There must have been twenty speed and bus lane cameras as I left Camden and before I made it to the Holloway Road. Then there must have been another 60 before I made it to the M11 on the edge of town. Its 5AM there is no traffic and no people and yet you must drive at exactly 20 and then 30mph on 3 lane roads or set off the speeding cameras. No wonder Britain owes $100,000 per family...... its all gone on speeding cameras and CCTV surveillance....... I've never really been against any of this stuff in principle....... But when its taken to extreme like this....... Suddenly the big brother state is a reality.

I suddenly took a jump to being against it........

I felt previously you cannot really be against CCTV and surveillance photography if you are a photographer........ because you do not find harm or objection in photography or filming......... but when its done by the State with the specific aim of spying on its subjects it becomes something else..... particularly when it becomes endemic. There is certainly a loss of freedom for the citizens of a surveillance state.

I know the people of what was previously East Germany have laws banning surveillance. Those people value their freedom. Having previously lived in a repressive Stalinist State. A State that used constant surveillance of citizens and constantly monitored and spied on all of them. People of former East Germany know what that is like to be monitored and surveilled, they fear and reject it.

In Britain we have sleep walked into it. I did not reject it out of hand as I was not doing anything wrong and I don't fear photography. But it is now endemic in Britain. The UK has more cameras and monitoring equipment per head of population than any other State in the world.

I began to really consider how a reportage artist and photojournalist can be against this stuff and obviously still in favor of their own photography. Suddenly I thought of East Germany where any kind of independent journalism or reportage and free artistic expression was banned and State surveillance was all pervasive. I realized that while they are all photographic they are at totally opposite ends of the spectrum. They are not similar in anyway.

Anything banned in East Germany is pretty likely to be a good thing...... anything practiced to the point that it defined the East German State...... is bound to be an abomination.

Today Britain's new coalition Government through the Queens Speech announced its proposed legislative agenda........ They have defined their proposals as attempting to bring freedom, fairness and responsibility...... under the freedom section they are proposing to address the spread of CCTV surveillance. They might be on to something surely I can't be the only Brit thinking like Winston Smith.

I don't have any pictures on me right now........ well none to go with any of these thoughts...... and what I was shooting in another one of my 24 hour days on the Coast of Suffolk cannot yet go on the blog........... so here is a frame shot from a yellow cab....... in a country that wisely is paranoid about CCTV and surveillance........ anyway here is a shot from my last trip to fly out of New York's JFK.


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