Video-sniffing is a method of tuning into wireless CCTV cameras and 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.
Replacing Money with Imagination
My experiments with surveillance technologies began during my time as part of arts collective MediaShed, a group focussed on repurposing technology for creative expression and the first free-media centre to open in the east of England. As part of my activities there I also curated digital arts event E2Prom and partnered with NYC gallery Eyebeam to develop a how-to website of budget tools to make filmmaking and arts more accessible to people on low incomes.
One of the best known CCTV movies ever made, winning Audience 3rd Prize at the sidewalkCINEMA Festival and shortlisted for the Big Issue Short Film Festival. Moving beyond the fixed-camera limitations of video-sniffing I made this free-running dance short by turning the 160 cameras of the Manchester Arndale shopping centre into my own environmental TV studio – directing via telephone from the bomb-proof control room! A subsequent city-wide musical has yet to be fully realised!
Other Repurposing Experiments
Webcams, mobile phones, action-cams, lo-fi pocket digital cameras, and CCTV you can purchase from the local electronics store are all tools available for the micro-budget filmmaker. I've tried them all. With webcam chatroom dance short 'Computer Love' – my online version of the balcony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet' – receiving 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 surveillance work continues to be included in university papers and screened around the world!