Monday, 15 December 2008

East London Line and the surveillance society: Paranoid and fragile state of England

Looking south towards Whitechapel Station; the new track being laid

Looking north-west towards Shoreditch Station, from Vallance Road; the new track being laid towards the bridge over the Liverpool Street main line at the site of Bishopsgate Station

I was reminded of the current Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library when I was taking these photos on 12th December 2008 (and earlier photos for this artist's book / poetic photobook project). I have now been stopped and questioned twice by police for taking photos quite openly in public streets during fieldwork for my East London Line photobook - once at New Cross, and the second time at Whitechapel while taking these photos. At New Cross I was suspected of being a possible terrorist for taking photos near a railway station, and at Whitechapel of being a possible child molester for taking photos near a school. There's a strange disproportionate element about these police reactions to such public behaviour. I have heard recently of an artist who was told that he couldn't draw at Kings Cross station. This is the sort of police reaction to normal behaviour that we used to associate with totalitarian regimes. Writers and artists are now viewed with suspicion merely because they want to look at things! Are we now all to go around with averted gaze?
More to follow.

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