31 Jan 2020

eyes on the street

The announcement by London's police force that it will use live facial recognition reminded my of a book I published a few years ago called Street View People View
link to People View Street View book
The arguments against it are essentially the same (although the quality of the technology is still moot) but what's changed is the sense of threat to personal safety on the streets of London. It's well documented that London is, outside China, the most cctv'd (if that's a word) city in the world which I think has normalised (not a nice word) surveillance here. I'm certainly conscious of its absence when I visit other cities around Europe.
I'm also conscious that street photography is itself a form of surveillance. I've excused myself with the well worn argument that anyone - voluntarily - in a public space is open to being photographed. I must admit even writing this now makes me stop and think. I find myself thinking of clauses like some dodgy small print. 
My pictures take months to produce so I don't share them randomly with my thousands (sorry, tens) of followers 
They are on film so there is no exif data of specific time and place 
People are in my pictures but the subject is the city 
It's not about you...it's about me 
etc etc 
Figure on Oxford Street
I acknowledge my work is becoming more anachronistic the longer I pursue it. The universal truths of earlier practitioners appear naive or repressive now. Street is still a valid form but it needs to reflect the present to work best, as it's always done. The New Europe project is my attempt to address that. It's given me greater motivation and purpose. It's also given me something else.  
Empathy.

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