March 18, 2008 by Allen George
What would you do if you saw the following poster?
Would you stop and ask yourself “What would I call odd?” Is it that man walking all alone, silent, a black camera hanging from his neck? He stops every so often to take a photo, but the stuff he’s photographing . . . well, doesn’t look very photo-worthy; seems a bit suspicious that . . .
It wasn’t some spoof. Wasn’t some photochop job protesting the growth of public surveillance. It’s a real campaign put together by The Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and British Transport Police as “part of a counter-terrorism campaign [where] one element is the camera element.” Hmph. The “camera element” . . . sounds very dark, very threatening – some mysterious ingredient in a yet-to-be-unleashed terrorist plot.
fascism by illegalphotos | © illegalphotos
Its power is diminished by the heavy-handed tag line. Rubin 110’s “Terrorism. Through paranoia, we let them win.” felt truer, though I’d rewrite it as “Terrorists: Through paranoia we let them win”.
The posters recalled two videos released by (of all networks) MTV, significant in their use of historical photos as visual punctuation marks. I wonder if the larger message – that the distance between freedom and oppression is never as vast as we imagine – will be lost through mention of the Holocaust, but they’re powerful nevertheless. I’ve embedded the stronger of the two videos below:
You can find the other one here.