CCTV

Above: Surveillance-camera tower. Credit: Bertsz.

Sky News screen-grab

Above: Sky News screen-grab, May, 2017. Credit: Sky News.

Control room

Above: SpaceX Control Center, Hawthorne, California. Credit: SpaceX-Imagery.

Control room

Above: Control Room, Le Mans, Belgium, 2012. Credit: Willem Ridderikhoff.

Control room

Above: Empty building machine-control-room. Credit: Dotcomuser.

CCTV

CCTV is one component of a wider trans-national multi-State pseudo-ideology: protection and security. In the urban center the presence of myriad closed-circuit television cameras--CCTV--subject the individual to a tyranny of surveillance or a "reign of telesurveillance (VW: 86)." We are living in the age of "the general spread of tele-surveillance (IB: 13)." CCTV security systems inflict on the individual intolerable social conditions "something happened with progress and its propaganda to make us constantly preoccupied with progress and perpetually occupied by it ... this occupation places us under surveillance, watching us, scanning us and evaluating us, revealing us (ADF: 47)." CCTV is a "ruthlessly penetrative" control-by-video-eye to which each person must submit (PI: 8). What has become "completely normalized" are "the conditions of the state of siege of military security (PD: 98)." The integration of CCTV surveillance technology has created the present scene of "globalitarianism" (a portmanteau contraction of globalization and totalitarian), that is, a horrifying present which is all the more illogical and absurd by its being not imposed by force but freely accepted, and in fact welcomed.

CCTV systems taken all together amount to an appalling intrusion into personal privacy and are in fact a mechanism for the destruction of privacy (IB: 29). There has been a grave error in the public's blind acceptance of CCTV-everywhere. England is a prime example of a truly horrifying modern state insofar as it has twenty-five million operational CCTV cameras (State operated and commercial/privately operated by, for example, retailers, etc.) (UD: 85). Beyond the obvious invasion of privacy of these "inquisitorial measures" more troubling is the fact that the English people accept and agree to this level of scrutiny--and are actually in favour of it by a substantial majority (UD: 85). A culture of surveillance has been sheepishly accepted without really any protest or dissent whatsoever "it is increasingly present, increasingly accepted as fate, a destiny (ADF: 47)."

The successful implementation of a "cameras everywhere" culture (in the West at least) would not have been possible without the underpinning of a relentless and definite campaign of state propaganda: endless news of new "credible" terror threats, evidence of recently-foiled attacks, etc. (ADF: 54). Bluntly formulated: the State fosters and inculcates fear which then prompts "the consumption of protection (PD: 61)." The State instigates "a new unanimity of need, a permanent feeling of insecurity (PD: 61)." The multitude of passerby (SP: 29) are subject to the dehumanizing intrusions of the prying CCTV camera--a development which is patently authoritarian; and very definitely comparable to the dehumanizing loss of privacy associated with overt totalitarianism ... a majority of CCTV cameras are privately operated by shopkeepers and companies, etc., so rather than an omnipotent, prying, authoritarian State it might be said that "communism has not disappeared from History; it has been privatized (ADF: 46)." The present situation is a dictatorship "exerted for more than half a century by optical hardware which has become omniscient and omnipresent and which, like any totalitarian regime, encourages us to forget we are individuated beings (IB: 29)." This loss of privacy impoverishes the quality of daily life "the end of private life is a new kind of poverty (GA: 58)."

In the era of the Digitial Revolution--and the instantaneous global sharing of information that it enables--it is still the street which offers the best chance for an uprising and dramatic social change (SP: 50/54). The State are well aware of this, hence the rise to prominence of mass surveillance by means of the CCTV system. Under the security doctrine of CCTV mass-surveillance, the street has become "a permanent film-set" and a scene of "transpolitical pan-cinema (WC: 83)." In terms of reconfiguring everyday life--in the urban setting--CCTV systems tend to produce a chilling effect on actions and activities on the street (the presumption now is that everything one does on the street is being filmed). For Virilio it is above all the street protest-and-march which is threatened by the implementation of State-controlled CCTV. Few have recognized that CCTV systems (with their cameras in position throughout the city) have already impacted on protests and activism: protesters are reticent and subdued because they know video evidence is being recorded (PI: 13). That is, mass surveillance allows for the "doing away with the direct repression of riots (SP: 50)."

In terms of the built environment and architecture, video surveillance precipitates a new addition to the repertoire: the surveillance control-room, monitoring-station, or observation-deck (UD: 107). The space that is literally the master-seat of security. If Foucauldian "disciplinary power" is exercised by CCTV (evolved via Bentham's panopticon) one thing we can presume about this room is that it often remains empty (PI: 2-3). Virilio notes that the security officer monitoring CCTV screens in a control room also returns us to classical philosophy and specifically to Plato's famous allegory of shadows-on-a-cave-wall--the guard's perception is crucially disconnected from real events, he sees only a range of shadowy figures on his bank of CCTV monitors (UD: 107).