art projects
Cambridge Evening News

Camera project seen as intrusive

BIG Brother-style surveillance cameras could be installed around Cambridge as part of a controversial art project.

Artist James Coupe wants to put up the cameras to catch memorable moments from people’s everyday lives, and aims to produce feature films from the footage, to be shown at an international film festival.

And the 31-year-old is hoping city residents will get behind his project by suggesting where the cameras should be located.

But the idea has been criticised by Mike Dixon, city councillor for the Market ward, who said surveillance cameras were only acceptable in the fight against crime.

He said: “I think people accept the current CCTV which is run by the city council, because it is there for crime prevention purposes and to gather evidence to prosecute criminals.

“But a lot of people would feel very unhappy about being filmed at random as they go about their daily life for other reasons – that is quite different and not something I would support.”

Mr Coupe said he wanted city residents to be the “stars” of his art project, and said he had chosen Cambridge because of its famous beautiful buildings.

He said: “I want to make Cambridge people the stars of a series of films set against a background of their own city and their own daily lives.

“A number of potential locations have been identified for the cameras, but we want people nominate sites they consider to be especially cinematic.”

The films which the artist creates during the project are due to be shown at the five-day Enter Unknown Territories Festival, being held in Cambridge from April 25 to 29.

His plan is to place between eight and 12 cameras around the city to capture public activities including greeting kisses, farewell scenes, and meetings.

They will be shown during feature films, possibly on screens put up on Parker’s Piece, the Junction foyer and as projections around Cambridge.

However, depending on how and where the cameras are installed, they could require planning permission.

Cambridge City Council said any camera which had a “material impact” on the character of a building or street would need to be approved.

To nominate a camera site or volunteer your home as a host camera site, email Chris Rogers at the Junction on digital@junction.co.uk by Thursday, February 22.

06 February 2007