Last edit:    23-04-12

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dutch version:  


The camera as used in surveillance systems is primarily a tool of social control and monitors the actions of the population to ensure that, if they react to the commodity in any subversive way (shoplifting, stealing from work, sabotage, vandalism), the person in question can be detected. This detectable presence of the camera in the workplace, in stores, schools, city parks, street corners, even coffee shops serves to remind the individual that s/he is a citizen of a surveilled society.

Next to feeling safer, the paradoxical side-effect of this omnipresence of surveillance cameras precipitates a sense that we cannot move around freely anymore. We are currently being watched almost everywhere, which is deemed almost as normal, yet may result in a surveillance society becoming a rather imminent reality.



OPEN-TV is a free system: it is a simultaneous exposure of a control system and subversion of that system to inform society about freedom and the way we live in it.

The basic concept is simple: an open tv system will be installed next to the existing closed CCTV systems in the city. OPEN-TV is a platform, a production of action. Individuals or groups create a scenario themselves and act it out, in this case in view of a surveillance camera. This can present itself in structures of theatre, music, in written forms (i.e. with use of billboards), express an immediate state of mind (free-style), or otherwise indicate any response suggested by the situation presented in its context. One can even choose a regular time slot to air their 'program' or instead choose to enact sporadic appearances.

The city will then become an environment in which individuals or groups can express themselves freely next to being watched for security purposes. OPEN-TV initiates a variety of small podia in the city; a platform with temporary free zones. Free zones where free movement is encouraged with the use of the same equipment by which freedom of movement is usually regulated and curtailed. The installation offers an juxtaposition in which two worlds exist next to each other: one of surveillance and control, the other of free expression and movement.

Not only does OPEN-TV and attentive audiences provide the participants the opportunity to point out to others that they are being studied, but also the community gathered to perform these actions can use the opportunity to communicate, to produce, to act and react freely.



The installation consists of 9 OPEN-TV set-ups and 1 presentation display, which are extended over different locations in the city. For more information, please refer to the blue icons below. When selecting 'more' you are able to zoom in.

The set-up includes a camera, a microphone, a small lcd-screen and an info sign. A small monitor is installed on the wall, which functions as a mirror and point of reference. The camera's view range or scope is visibly brought to attention with the info sign; this information also functions as a demarcation line for portrait and privacy laws. All video and audio from all locations are transmitted, together with the image, to one location for presentation.

The OPEN-TV presentation shows all camera positions tiled together in a matrix. Together with all these images, a sound-scape of all sites will be amplified. This unifies all various participating neighborhoods and the reactions of its inhabitants together in one setting, and will generate a broad view and frame a mosaic of the city.

The OPEN-TV website linked to the server provides a live-feed of the project and offers the possibility to be linked to lcd-screens elsewhere. In conjunction with a possible display at the Amsterdam Museum, the proposal is to install a server which will save (a selection of) the material. In the future this may become an historic reference to an image of creativity and living in the city of Amsterdam. This database offers the visitors to view their own past performances and of others. This in addition will enthuse and stimulate the community to partake in the project.

Next to the program of the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 Mei, a variety of performances will be conducted on the 5th of May. This day freedom will be celebrated in front of the OPEN-TV set-ups throughout all city-districts: violins in West, rap in Zuidoost, a poem in the Center, a live painting act in Oost and dance in Noord.

After this date, the installation offers a framework for all participants and visitors. How the audience reacts or might not react for a while is a factor of chance; the spontaneous or pre-conceived actions next to the 'silence' and the passing of time in itself offers a valuable image of daily life observed in the city of Amsterdam.





* Michel Foucault - Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison / Panopticism, 1995.

* Jeremy Bentham  -  PANOPTICON;  or  The  Inspection-House: Containing  The Idea  of a  New  Principle  of   Construction Applicable to Any Sort of Establishment, in which Persons of Any Description  Are to be Kept   Under Inspection;  and in Particular to Penitentiary-Houses,  Prisons,  Houses  of Industry, Work-Houses,   Poor - Houses, Lazarettos,  Manufactories,  Hospitals, Mad-Houses, and Schools: With a Plan of Management   Adapted  To the  Principle:  in a  Series of  Letters, Written in  The Year 1787,  From Crecheff in White   Russia. To a Friend in England.

* Guy Debord - Writings from the Situationist International, 1957-1961.

* Constant Nieuwenhuys - New Babylon, 1956-1974.

* Allan Kaprow - Assemblages, Environments and Happenings, 1966.

* Krzysztof Wodiczko - Public Projection, 1983 & Speaking Statues, 2006.

* Joseph Beuys - I am Searching for Field Character, 1973 & Not Just a Few Are Called, But Everyone, 1972.

* George Maciunas - Fluxus Manifesto, 1963.

* Albert-Laszlo Barabasi - The Random Universe (An excerpt from Linked: How Everything is Connected to   Everything Else and What it Means, 2003.

* Eric Paulos & Elizabeth Goodman - The Familiar Stranger: Anxiety, Comfort and Play in Public Places, 2004.

* Bruce Nauman - Live/Taped Video Corridor, 1970 & Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), 2001.

* Nam June Paik - TV-Buddha, 1974.

* On Kawara - I am Still Alive, 1970.

* The Surveillance Camera Players - New York City, 1996-2006.


More info on the preceding design


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