In London, they call the massive video surveillance system the "Ring of Steel," and New York City appears headed in the same direction, as we've discussed here previously.
What's not widely known about London's surveillance camera system, however, is that ordinary British citizens who are captured by the system -- which includes just about anyone walking or driving in London -- have the right to obtain a copy of the footage in which they appear. The law is called the Data Protection Act of 1998, and the cost for each requested video copy is a modest ten pounds.
A sub-culture of street performers has emerged from all this. These activist-artists perform in front of government surveillance cameras, then obtain video copies of their performances, edit them together and post them online. (It's a bit like taking what New York's 11-year old Surveillance Camera Players do to the next level -- see previous blog.)
You can read more about it at the
ambienttv.net web site, where there's info about "Faceless," a film made entirely from surveillance camera footage, and a more detailed explanation of the "manifesto for CCTV filmmakers" -- here's an excerpt:
"Manifesto For CCTV Filmmakers declares a set of rules, establishes effective procedures, and identifies further issues for filmmakers using pre-existing CCTV (surveillance) systems as a medium in the UK. The manifesto is constructed with reference to the Data Protection Act 1998 and related privacy legislation that gives the subjects of data records (including CCTV footage) access to copies of the data. The filmmaker's standard equipment is thus redundant; indeed, its use is prohibited."
Talk about low budget filmmaking!