big brother is watching
a while ago i found this great article about london and its growing fetish with closed circuit television cameras (cctv, used for security and surveillance). according to the article within 200 yards of the flat george orwell resided in until his death in 1950, are 32 cctv cameras. london, as a whole, boasts some 4,200,000 cctv cameras, one for every 14 people, which is roughly 20% of the entire world’s total. it is estimated that the average londoner is caught on camera more than 300 times a day. as if the surveillance of the area surrounding orwell’s flat wasn’t ironic enough it was just announced the other day that the u.k. would begin installing talking cctv cameras. in fact, according to gizmodo this morning, they were previously holding a secret contest to find the voice of “big brother.” of course, things aren’t so different on this side of the pond. in the most recent issue of good magazine there was a brilliant diagram describing the cctv situation in new york city, in which they mapped the city showing it to be virtually impossible to get from point “a” to point “b” without being watched. it’s fascinating to me to see the wildly ubiquitous implementation of these cameras. it seems as though almost every new piece of architecture is more concerned with security than it is with aesthetics or the experience of the user. voyeurism as a concept for design does not lead to the same wonderful openness as the idea of the democracy of design that gunter behnisch talked about. it is interesting how wildly close we have come to orwell’s seminal piece, 1984, in which the posters on the streets read, “big brother is watching.”
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