Video Surveillance Systems: Between Over-control and Safety

September 19, 2018


Representations of the human body, we might say, are coded diagrams that collect certain knowledges of the human condition in order to grant access to the ways in which power and space intersect.

The relation between «body, power and space» Ross Exo Adams mentions could be registered in real time, potentially preventing something that can occur to two or more bodies in a given space under condition of superiority of one of those – rape, harassment, act of violence. The LGBT people and women are particularly vulnerable in these cases according to statistics. In Stockholm, video surveillance can only be used for traffic control: the usage of closed-circuit television cameras is prohibited even on private property (although a video can be accepted as an evidence in the court) The «undoubtable» evilness of surveillance was re-interrogated recently as a reaction to the act of violence against young man in winter 2017: the story of a police officer who sodomised and raped the victim would have probably never reached us if the video surveillance in the outskirts of Paris have not been installed. Another attempt to control public and semi-public space are Business Improvement Districts, a concept of auto-regulating system of surveillance by the neighbours that has provoked numerous protests. However, it is difficult to deny the important decrease of crime in London due to BID’s.

Clearly, the surveillance of any kind, even the self-governed one, is somehow a violation of the concept of democracy. Nevertheless, the total vilification of the idea of surveillance does not allow people to question the exclusiveness of certain parts of the city for certain groups of population or the danger that the surveillance would reduce. Isn’t the inner machinery inside every human being more precious than the machinery of the democracy as a whole? Isn’t safety worth being observed? How to find the balance?

Ekaterina Ulitina


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