“Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We are two artists who have been “looking” since July 2011. We’ve watched The News International HQ, The House of Commons, Scotland Yard and lots of other people and places. It seemed right to begin our “Overt Surveillance” by watching the watchers. The public are watched by the police, by the media, and even supermarkets look at people on CCTV. The Art of Public Watching (or “Overt Surveillance”) is about doing some friendly, un-secretive looking back.
As artists we enjoy the neutrality this has brought us. Our surveillance missions have looked at shape and form and after a while the eye and ear pick up on seemingly irrelevant detail. We don’t judge, we just look and draw and scribble thoughts.
Lots of people have enjoyed our missions – amongst them members of the public, civil rights activists, Her Majesty’s Constabulary, and especially children – who are naturally brilliant at neutral observation. We wear bright yellow Overt Surveillance T-Shirts and announce our mission to whoever and whatever we are looking at – this seems to bring a smile. These are pictures of our operations.
We want to be able to share “Overt Surveillance” better and carry out more missions and will be shortly announcing funding plans to bring our work into the schools, festivals and galleries of Britain, encouraging people to discover The Art of Public Watching themselves through periscopes, binoculars, or the naked eye. We would help people to sketch or note what they see – but more importantly to pause, and to look. Keep watching this website, or join us on Facebook or Twitter @OvertSurvey
Janice Wilkins & Caroline Jaine