Who’s Watching You? Oh Yeah, Everyone Is

surveillance sign
Hoboken, NJ Photo by let ‘er rip

In so many ways Americans – gladly, willingly – gave up their personal freedoms in the aftermath of September 11. One of those ways is that we now live under surveillance, pretty much everywhere and all the time. Photographer Richard Gordon set out to document the prevalence of surveillance cameras over five years, from 2003 to 2008, in his new book American Surveillance. With photos of security cameras on ceilings and street lamps, in museums and malls, Gordon found there’s precious few places that you’re not being filmed.

The Epoch Times reported on Gordon’s book signing at the University of California, Berkeley recently where he talked about his project – and how he found camera in cities like Chicago and New York, but also suburban malls and rural areas. In one San Francisco mall’s parking structure, he counted 130 cameras. 130! (Do you ever notice how when someone goes missing, like that recent Yale graduate student, there is almost always surveillance footage of them?)

Gordon’s book is a really interesting comment on our times – and a multi-layered issue at that. In terms of street photography, you think, how can anyone object to their photo being taken when it’s taken probably thousands of times a day already? In terms of photographers’ rights, is it fair that certain government and private buildings outlaw photography but are constantly photographing you? And are you fine with your Google searches, emails, grocery store purchases, errands and financial records being tracked in the name of security?

And you might say, “What do I care? I’m a law-abiding citizen, it doesn’t affect me.” But I think the larger issue is that a culture of surveillance breeds a culture of fear, which is very apparent in the US with the accusations of terrorism in very innocuous situations, like with photographing skyscrapers and subway cars. We give up a lot of our innocence when we always suspect the worst of everyone around us.

Article via The Epoch Times

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1 Response to “Who’s Watching You? Oh Yeah, Everyone Is”


  1. 1 Josh Zytkiewicz September 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I would have no problem with public surveillance as long as I could access them as well. Put the camera feeds on a website so anyone with an internet connection can look. Why should the police be the only ones that can watch what’s happening on the street?


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