To celebrate what would've been George Orwell's 110th birthday, two Dutch artists sought inspiration from perhaps his most famous novel, 1984. The artists took to the streets of the Dutch city of Utrecht to put party hats on CCTV cameras in an attempt to draw attention to the culture of surveillance in modern cities. If we only looked above the stores and billboards that line our streets, say Front404, the artists behind the stunt, we'd realize how many cameras are above us.
- "We put party hats on 10 cameras in the city center of Utrecht," says voor t' Hekke, "I think the hats are still there, unless someone really wanted them removed."
- "1984 is why we do privacy-related street art." With the rapid pace of technology development, privacy is an increasingly "hot topic."
- Front404, the name for Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle's art duo, didn't have access to any machinery to place the hats up high, so used a "stick mechanism."
- "The cameras in the city continually record faces in the crowd, and can link with facial recognition software to track the identities of strangers."
- "The camera forest is growing and growing, and that's kind of scary to us... People on the street are already used to the cameras everywhere and aren't bothered by them anymore."
- "By subverting the camera we make people aware again. Maybe when they see one party hat, they try to look for more. Maybe then they'll realize how many cameras are actually above them."
- Before Front404's party hat stunt, they'd already worked with CCTV cameras. This is a "PanoptICON." The pair placed several around Utrecht back in 2010, and voor t 'Hekke tells us they're currently working on a new project involving the bird-shaped figures.
All images copyright Front404