Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
-George Orwell, 1984
Seizing upon the opportunities granted by European proximity, I recently made a visit one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, London, England. Once known as unrivaled power capital of the British Empire, today’s London has turned more into “surveillance society”, as so quipped by the London Guardian.
London boasts nearly one camera for every 14 people, making common Londoners the most heavily-watched populace on the planet. The average Brit is said to be caught on camera over 200 times in one day, dwarfing any comparison to undemocratic “totalitarian” states which ultimately lack the resources to commit to such collective paranoia, a feat easily achieved by the richer “liberal” democracies of Her Majesty’s Kingdom.
What makes the presence of such a security apparatus entirely questionable, one could argue, is the fact that they have not served their entire purpose. According to a study and white paper produced by Urban Eye, the use of the cameras has been described by public officials as a way to both “tackle crime” and to “raise revenue”, the latter goal proving eventually to be the more worthy venture. In fact, research conducted by Scotland yard found that while cameras may have been erected in order to fight and prevent crime, they have proved to be an “utter fiasco“, with only 3% of crimes ever solved by use of the Closed-Circuit Television. A recent investigation by the Daily Mail revealed that all other information gathered by authorities are instead used to create “databases” for subjects, where now shockingly one in four Britons–15 million people–are now on a police database (see picture below).
The goal of Liberty In Exile, in exploring the city and country once labeled “Airstrip One” by writer George Orwell, was to attempt to document what Big Brother London is to the average citizen. Here is a collected photo essay based upon casual travel in the city which no longer holds any secrets: