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Random Me

CCTV Randomizer

2008
4 surveillance camera + video Quad
Max/Msp Software

The last decades has seen an impressive increase in CCTV surveillance in public and private spaces. In the name of Freedom our every moves are monitored. Clearly video surveillance is an invasion of personal privacy. One could say it is the price to pay for security but unfortunately there is no or little supervision on the recorded materials. Most surveillance system are privately owns (private business, individuals). Some websites already are specialised in “stolen” CCTV footage.

At the same time and quite ironically we seem to be fascinated by our own image. From reality TV shows like “Big Brother” to Youtube video podcast, it looks like human narcissistic nature is surprisingly pleased to be surrounded by cameras (mobiles phones, CCTV, Web-cams to name a few).

On an aesthetic level, CCTV has also trigger interesting experiments among film makers and artists. Film makers start using CCTV equipment and footage to create movies. A good example would be the “Manifesto for CCTV film makers”. The manifesto is constructed with references to the Data Protection Act 1998 and related privacy legislation that gives the subjects of data records (including CCTV footage) access to copies of the data. Music video makers and the advertising industry exploit widely this aesthetic.

RandomMe is like a virus that would corrupt CCTV footage, instead of a regular linear recording, the software produces random recording of a location. Each frames are randomly recorded which makes the perception of time random too. Thus it becomes impossible to make a clear reading of events that would take place in a defined location.

RandomMe is a software (programmed with Max/Msp) running on 1 PC, with 1 AV/DV Converter, 4 CCTV video cameras, 1 Quad Video Processor and 1 LCD monitor:

This project films and records the activity in a physical space (it is recorded into a “buffer,” or memory allocated in the computer). Simultaneously the software randomly plays frames from this buffer. Since all the architectural elements are fixed, the footage shows what seems to be at first “regular” CCTV footage of a space, but the events are played back randomly (frame by frame). Thus it is impossible to have a linear reading of what is happening. The buffer can present real time events and past events at the same time. People could then still be visible on the monitor even though they are no longer present in the space. They will be visible (in various frames) until, eventually, the buffer gets completely overwritten.