Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Subversive brollies

In Wellington, an umbrella can seem useless at times, and should always be seen as a disposable item. Though they often fail to keep more than the top 10% of your body dry, this sticker helpfully suggests a new use: to retain your anonymity when under surveillance by CCTV cameras.

As Wellington street art goes, this is very professionally done, and it certainly made me do a double take (especially since this one is on the handle of the giant umbrella on the corner of Cuba and Manners streets). It's an interesting response to the growing number of such cameras in central Wellington: I've already seen posters, graffiti and stencils warning of the civil liberties implications of this proliferating panopticon, but this one takes a more subversive approach by suggesting a means of avoiding detection.

Former mayor (and now National Party list MP) Mark Blumsky has been one of the strongest advocates for more surveillance. It has to be noted that the perpetrators of his pre-election assault somehow managed to escape the cameras, but while some would unkindly suggest that his assailants are more likely to be found on the top shelf at the Last Supper Club, let those who are without gout cast the first stone.

There are various political and artistic responses to the surveillance society, including the notion of sousveillance, but this sticker campaign could be seen as one of the more radical because it seems to offer advice to those engaged in nefarious activities (there's nothing to worry about if you've nothing to hide, right?). There's another unforeseen consequence that might be just as worrying. Some places have already banned the wearing of hoodies: can an umbrella ban be far away?


At 10:34 am, October 25, 2005, Blogger s. said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Blumsky responsible for the cameras in the first place, during his first term as mayor?

I mean, as responsible as a mayor can be for something like that.

At 10:56 am, October 25, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, he set the camera thing in motion, and I think that he's recently been calling for more (though I can't find a link for that). He's also calling for an extended liquor ban (not that there's anything ironic about that).


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