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WATCHFUL EYES
A modern British Poster to make Orwell blush - Mark Vallen Dec. 2002.
Welcome to 1984... in 2002 Welcome to 1984... in 2002
Welcome to 1984... in 2002 Welcome to 1984... in 2002

In October of 2002, Londoners woke up one morning to a startling sight. Posters that looked like props from a movie version of George Orwell's 1984 were plastered all along London bus routes. At first many people thought it was a guerilla art campaign mounted by privacy and civil rights advocates. After all, England now has more security cameras aimed at its population than any other country on earth, with 1.5 million police cameras installed by authorities in urban environs. Unfortunately the posters were not a hoax, but part of an official anti-crime campaign mounted by the Metropolitan Police and London's mass transit provider, the CCTV. The poster's message to the public is that they are under constant surveillance - and so they should feel "secure."

While it may be argued that the campaign was designed by the authorities to alleviate public fears of street crime, and that the state only had the public interest at heart (wink, wink)... it's astounding that they'd make their point with an eerie graphic portraying an all seeing authority right out of Orwell's prophetic novel about a negative utopia. If nothing else this poster is strongly reminiscent of a Soviet era Stalinist propaganda image, and if I'm not mistaken - they were supposedly the bad guys. It's interesting to consider the mindset of those who designed and approved the poster for distribution. Did they really not understand the implication of their message or does their work indicate something more insidious? Even more interesting is the public's apparent acceptance of the poster. Has the yearning for freedom been thoroughly smothered by a longing for Big Brother's protection?

The Architecture of submission
The Architecture of submission
The Architecture of submission
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