Thursday, March 2, 2006

Playful surveillance

In preparing this week's lecture on surveillance and risk for my science & tech class, I reread Anders Albrechtslund and Lynsey Dubbeld's The Plays and Arts of Surveillance: Studying Surveillance as Entertainment (pdf). Although I still don't think the authors are terribly successful at making their case, it's such a departure from most surveillance studies that I'm really curious to see what the students think.

"Surveillance could be considered not just as positively protective, but even as a comical, playful, amusing, enjoyable practice...[I]n this paper we are not concerned with the subverting, critical potential of cultural reflections on surveillance. Rather, our intent is to draw attention to an emerging range of surveillance manifestations the primary purpose of which is to entertain...

[T]here is a growing area of what could be called ‘surveillance games’ that seems to call for further analysis: games that use data processing technologies to provide or enhance entertainment, thereby appropriating surveillance devices for their own hedonistic purposes. These appropriations suggest that surveillance is not just a steady growing security industry that requires critical debate and extensive academic analysis (important as these are!); surveillance can also serve as a source of enjoyment, pleasure and fun, as is evidenced in the entertainment industry...

[L]ooking at surveillance from the perspective of the fun it can bring could contribute to developing analyses of how surveillance can come up in unexpected places, such as online gaming communities, and increase our sensitivity for identifying surveillance issues in innocentlooking practices such as board games...Further study of popular culture aspects of surveillance can contribute to an understanding of how we use concepts and metaphors derived from fiction in surveillance analyses."


Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

Hi Anne:
well, first, let me say, i sure wish i could be taking your class. i share much interest in these same topics, and thx to the internet i can, sort of, surrogately follow along, to some degree anyway. love your blogs.
interesting article, thx for posting it.
i have written a silly spooky piece that might bore you, but may also provoke some thought on the subject of surveillance as entertainment. The Panoptic Arcade. It's kinda wacked, but, speculates on a merger of panoptic urbanism and gaming as a ubiquitous cultural medium, or something. Gamers as the harbingers of a future interactive global surveillance space, a theme i am developing. anyway, let me know what you think.

Anonymous anne said...

Thanks Brian! I'll add this to the class blog links.

btw - subtopia is also a very cool blog :-)

Anonymous anne said...

Oops! Thanks BRYAN :-)

Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

Cool. and thanks!

I will ty to follow along, too. on the class blog.


Anonymous bas raijmakers said...

Another project you might want to look at is Urban Eyes, where pigeons give you a new view on your neighbourhood through RFID and CCTV..


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