Video-sniffing is a method of hacking into wireless CCTV networks to record and see what the budget cams can pick up. What started out as a game for some tech-experimenters became a methodology for artists looking to take back control of their urban environment. I was one.
Working here with homeless children and school students in Southend to make an advert for free-media, while newly arrived immigrant children in Kokkola , Finland make a demonstration of self-advocacy in public buildings.
One of the best known CCTV movies ever made! The term video-sniffing is often used as a blanket description for all surveillance filmmaking and art, even if not wireless. For this free-running dance short I moved beyond the limitations of fixed-cameras by turning the 160 cameras of the Manchester Arndale shopping centre into an environmental TV studio – directing via telephone from my own multi-screen security desk in the bomb-proof control room! Winner of Audience 3rd Prize at the sidewalkCINEMA Festival and shortlisted for the Big Issue Short Film Festival. A subsequent city-wide musical has yet to be fully realised!
Replacing Money with Imagination
Why stop there? Webcams, mobile phones, action-cams, lo-fi pocket digital cameras, even old school VHS are all tech to be repurposed by the no-budget filmmaker. I've tried them all. What began as experiments in CCTV during my time as part of arts collective MediaShed led to a collaboration with New York gallery Eyebeam to develop a user-generated 'how-to' website of budget filmmaking tools to help give a creative voice to people on low incomes anyway in the world. Here's some more screenshots from my own experiments.
This webcam chatroom dance version of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet entitled Computer Love (below) received a Special Mention by the jury at the VideoDansa Barcelona International Competition, IDN Festival.
Media coverage received from the Guardian, Arena magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, Reuters, the Manchester Evening News, Showreel, BBC NW, More4 News, BBC Radio 5, Danish Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Plus my experimental surveillance films continue to be included in university papers and screened around the world!