I discovered Joel Wanek and his website via a Google alert earlier this week and was immediately transfixed by this very Orwellian photo. Almost instantly, images of giant telescreens, the Thought Police, Hate Week, and “Big Brother is Watching You,” whipped through my brain.
“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
But what is also rather fortuitous about this photo and Wanek’s other work, is the fact that a good portion of Wanek’s street photography is based in Chicago, IL. Which, as you should all know, is a state that has made it a Class 1 felony (punishable up to 15 years in prison) for anybody caught using an audio recording device to document encounters with law enforcement and other government officials without their consent.
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power…Power is not a means; it is an end…The object of power is power.”
This photo is great, but it would have been even better if it was captured over the Atlantic in 1984.