Action idea: Tag your city!

The urban space is not a homogenous space, but is made of many heterogenous areas. All these spaces have their own individual characteristics which are determined by their use or properties. There are ongoing processes that determine in which way and by whom these spaces can be used. Whether a place is ought to be a representative square or an inner-city skateboard park, a privately owned and commercially used airport or public space with the right to demonstrate, is re-negotiated over and over in complex processes. Access to these spaces – even in the manner of defining new kinds of usage – depends on the protagonists.

Many places are not free from discriminating exclusion mechanisms. For the most places there are legal or social standards which determine what kind of actions or even person are allowed to access and use it or not. These standards reflect the resentments and discrimination embedded in our society. Currently they create economic and racist motivated exclusion too often. This contradicts the idea that public space should be accessible and usable for all individuals. Furthermore there is a general suspicion in the context of war against terror, which determines everyone of us to a security risk which should be monitored and „kept under control“.

To enforce the set standards, different methods of surveillance and control are used by government authorities and private companies. Besides of individual identity checks video surveillance is the most used method. As a more or less apparent method it is ought to have a deterrent effect and therefore to prevent the exceeding of set norms. Adaptive behaviour of the surveilled individuals is one known consequence of CCTV. Deviation from the expected behaviour is then penalized ranging from indentity checks in the streets right up to criminal proceedings.

These and other forms of discrimination and surveillance are often difficult to spot, because they are not obvious (hidden cameras, plain-clothed police officers), focus on minorities (displacement of poor persons like homeless people from inner-cities) or are blinded out in our daily routine.
To uncover this forms of surveillance, control and discrimination we want to call for action within the international NO CCTV-actiondays: Tag your city in order to make these mechanisms in public space visible again! This means marking the controlled space.

The tagging of controlled spaces should not be restricted to CCTV alone. Spaces with other forms of restrictions can and should be marked, too. Airports can be marked as they are not solely used for getting people to their holiday destinations but for often brutal deportations of illegalized migrants. Train stations or so called „troulbe hotspots“ are areas in which racist motivated dragnet operations take place. There are many more examples. A space can be tagged by marking video surveillanced areas with coloroued ducktape, chalk, barrier tape or in other creative manners.

If possible document your actions an send pictures, videos or links to these to We will then put them onto the NO CCTV-Actiondays Blog.

The Tag Your City action was inspired by an action of the artist Manu Luksch who tagged places under CCTV surveillance in London in 2008. video on vimeo

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