Posts Tagged ‘text’

Stanza’s Object-Oriented Aesthetics By Charlie Gere

December 5th, 2013

Stanza’s Object-Oriented Aesthetics Charlie Gere

Stanza may be one of the most prolific and productive artists working today. For three decades he has been making work ‘about cities, landscape, surveillance space, and urbanism. These installations are often networked data experiences, fusing networks of live real time environmental data, live CCTV feeds, or live media visualisations’, as his website puts it.  Much if not most of his work over the last twenty five years has been concerned with the city and with real-time technologies of surveillance and information and has often involved using and even making electronic devices. What is particularly interesting about Stanza’s work is that he understands how to use in creative and novel ways a whole range of tools and technologies, which, along with his prodigious rate of production, means that his output is a kind of map of shifting technological realities and possibilities.

Meltdown_2004_.120-90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He groups many of his artworks over the last twenty five years under the rubric The Emergent City Projects. This goes back to work in the mid-1980s when he was making music videos about ‘cities, networks and urban situations’ using ‘VJ decks and experimental TV techniques’, and has continued to this day. Stanza’s prolific rate of production, and his continuous exploration of the possibilities and meanings of media and the environment make it almost impossible to track and map all his work, or even to gain an overview that would make it possible to grasp its totality. In this regard his work resembles the cities with which much of it is concerns, inasmuch as they too defy such a grasp.

Despite this, ‘Emergent City: From Complexity to the City of Bits’, the exhibition of Stanza’s work at the Waterman’s Centre in Brentford looks at first like a more or less conventional display of art. It occupies a white cube space, which is filled with both sculptural and painterly objects, as well as projections. Yet, unlike much conventional contemporary art, and in keeping with the complexity of Stanza’s work, it is oddly reticent inasmuch as it is hard to tell at first what is going on. Things are happening, both on the floor, and on the walls, but what they are is not immediately apparent. Far from being a problem I suggest that this opacity is the work’s great strength. Its very refusal of easy understanding is a profound reflection on the world itself, and the degree to which it is available to us.

Stanza’s art is consonant with a new philosophical position, or rather set of positions, that has recently emerged, that seeks to develop just such a complex understanding. There are a number of names associated with this, including Speculative Realism, Object-Oriented Ontology, and the New Materialism. Among its major figures are Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, Jane Bennett, Vickie Kirby, and Timothy Morton, though it must be said that there are many others also working in the same are, and also that this is not to ascribe any overly unified character or set of beliefs to these thinkers. Nevertheless they offer a new way of thinking about the world, one that does not reduce it to what is available to human consciousness.

Art does not, indeed cannot tell us about things in the way that science or philosophy does, but it can tell us something about how we can come to know and understand the world into which we are flung. To put it another way it offers us an insight into the act of knowing and the way that that knowing is structured and determined. Works of art set us up us as observers of different sorts, according to the dominant epistemologies of the context in which they are made. Thus to look at a work of art made in a context different to that in which we find ourselves is to be given a potential insight, however partial, into a different way of thinking about and representing the world. Take, for example, the development of regimes of representation in painting in the West, from the Middle Ages to now. In the former period representation was organized according to a theocentric understanding of the cosmos, one that was coterminous with the dominant scholastic epistemology. Accordingly the visual regime of painting evinced a particular spatial arrangement, in which the size of those represented was structured in relation to their status within this divine economy.

Portraits Of The Artist Stanza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the emergence of modernity, the disappearance of God as active participant in the world, and the concomitant rise of the human subject as source of knowledge, pictorial representation was ordered according to a different spatial logic, that of the viewpoint of such a subject, a static, monocular viewpoint, separate from that which is being observed. This form of representation was of a piece with the emerging understanding of the world from the perspective of the human subject, which found its most cogent expression in the work of Rene Descartes. Martin Jay goes so far as to describe the parallels between philosophical understanding and pictorial representation as ‘Albertian-Cartesian Perspectivalism’, acknowledging that Descartes’ thought was prefigured by the architect Alberti’s theories of how to represent the built environment. Perhaps the culmination of this kind of thinking was the Kantian division of the things of the world into noumena, the things as they are in themselves, and phenomena, the things as they are appear to us. For Kant our speculative reason can only know things as they appear to us, therefore the world can only be understood in terms dictated by its availability to human consciousness.

With the new understandings of the world brought about by Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson, Einstein and others in the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries, new forms of representation emerged, including Impressionism, what came to be known as Post-impressionism, Cubism, DADA, Surrealism, and so on. With such movements new forms of seeing and knowing were enacted that took account of a more complex and fragmented universe than that supposedly available to the subject of modernity. This continued with the postwar avant-garde which engaged in a radical investigation into the very nature of representation, where and how it took place, and for whom it was intended. As such it paralleled philosophical movements such as Deconstruction which attempted the same for thought.

In the last thirty or so years it is arguable that art appears to have lost its sense of critical engagement with the world. Instead the imperatives of the market seem to be the determining factor in the production of art. But we cannot blame the failure of such work solely on the overly close relation between the art market and neoliberal late capitalism. There is a more complex issue at stake, which is the impossibility of reflecting on the world through purely visual means. Vision itself presupposes a certain subjectivity. To be able to capture the entire meaning of an artwork in the visual field is to be set up as an autonomous subject, capable of mastering what she sees. Yet, as theorists such as Fredric Jameson and Michel de Certeau pointed out many decades ago, the world is not amenable to such visual mastery. This is particularly true in our massively networked culture, in which the means by which power is wielded are largely concealed from us.

Jameson and de Certeau can be regarded as practicing a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, that critiqued modernist pretensions to visual and other forms of mastery. The moment in which they wrote the work cited above is often described as the beginnings of ‘postmodernism’, a crude term encompassing a wide variety of positions, but which can be seen as a general attempt to dismantle the edifice of philosophical modernity. As such it remained largely critical and even negative about that with which it engaged.nBy contrast the new philosophies mentioned above seek to go beyond this negativity. One idea that is shared by many of its proponents, that of a turn away from what has been named Kantian correlationism, the notion that the only world that is knowable is the one that is available to human consciousness. One of the consequences of this move has been an emphasis on the agency of non-human ‘actants’.

Perhaps the major figure in developing this line of thought is Bruno Latour, best known as a sociologist of science, but increasingly recognized as a philosopher for whom science offers a powerful set of exemplars of a more general understanding of the world. Latour was originally identified with the set of sociological methodologies known as Actor Network Theory (ANT). At the risk of oversimplification Latour’s dominating idea can be summed up as follows: nothing can be reduced to anything else. This does away with the modernist dualism in which a human subject stands apart from and stands over non-human objects. In Latour’s universe all entities have agency, and an equal say in how the world is and how it is understood. Latterly Latour has been taken up by thinkers connected with Speculative Realism, in particular Graham Harman, for whom Latour is the exemplary philosopher of post-correlationist thinking.

One of the crucial terms in Latour’s vocabulary is that of ‘black box’, a term originating in engineering to denote an element within a system whose effective working can be taken for granted, and therefore requires only input and output. For Latour the black box is the name for those elements within any set of theories about the world that we can take for granted. An example might be the structure of DNA as a double helix, something now almost entirely uncontested, and simply assumed in any discussions of genetics, but which once had to be argued for by assembling what Latour calls ‘allies’, both human and non-human, through which to defeat rival hypotheses.

stanza installation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This brings me back to Stanza and to the kind of art he practices, which I believe is the correlate of the philosophical ideas described above (without in any sense being illustrations of that work, or even evincing an awareness of it). This possibly reflects the fact that both the art and the philosophy emerge out of the same complex set of conditions, in particular the experience of living and working in a highly mediated ‘network society’, in which digital technology offers a powerful literal model of non-human, non-biological agency. It is worth noting that much of the discussion and debate in the philosophical circles described above bypasses traditional means of scholarly exchange, and takes place in the blogosphere. (Here it is important not to simplistically confuse or conflate digital networks with the actor networks talked about by Latour and others.)

That Stanza engages with the city as the main focus of his work is apt in this context, given that the urban environment can stand as a good model for the complex interactions and relations that thinkers such as Latour see as governing our world. Indeed Latour has written a small book, Paris: Ville Invisible, which makes this exact point. In this book Latour describes the highly interconnected and often hidden structures of the city of Paris, in order to demonstrate the degree to which what we see of a city is only a very small part of a far more complex situation.

Stanza might be understood to be doing something similar with his Watermans exhibition. The first work the visitor encounters is a screen showing a grid of live feeds from CCTV cameras across London. By showing a vanishingly small number of the multiple viewpoints available to the inhabitants of the city Stanza already allows to see how any panoptic view or unifying vision is impossible, and indeed that vision itself maybe almost entirely pointless as a means of understanding the city’s complexity. Turning round from this one is then confronted by a large installation occupying most of the gallery space, which is clearly the centre and focus of the exhibition. It is an accumulation of computer hardware arranged to look like a city. It is kinetic inasmuch as lights go on and off, and elements revolve at intervals. The spectacle is compelling in that what might at first just look like a model of a city exhibits some kind of autonomous activity that seems more than merely automatic. The various kinetic and light elements are in fact responding to Stanza’s own network of environmental sensors at his home and nearby. Relayed through the internet to a pair of Arduino microcontrollers the captured data determines the actions of those elements.

Stanza’s work not only performs the way in which non-human actants now appear to talk to each other, especially in relation to the so-called ‘internet of things’, but moreover how these conversations take place in literal black boxes, in other words the computers and networks whose operation is both largely hidden from us, and at the same time vital for our everyday existence. But this must not be seen merely as a comment on network technologies. Rather it should be understood as reflecting a more complex and widespread aspect of our existence, in short the degree to which we can now recognize that everything can and does communicate everything else. Much of this communication is not easily available to human subjects. Thus the opacity of Stanza’s and other new media work can be understood as the most profound artistic response to both our current mediated condition and to the new ontologies and philosophies it has engendered.

stanza sonicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Cosgrove, director of programme at Watershed, the Bristol venue where Stanza has recently shown work, has claimed that ‘Stanza may well be the Picasso of the Internet’. This may be a little tongue-in-cheek, as well as an acknowledgement of Stanza’s protean workrate and capacity for experimentation within his chosen media, and indeed his technical virtuosity. But it also suggests something else, equally, if not more important. Picasso was perhaps the artist who first understood the implications of radical developments in science and philosophy at the beginning of the twentieth century, and found consonant forms of visual expression. Working at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries, Stanza is developing an artistic language that can reflect the new ways of thinking about the world that are currently being proposed and debated.

Recently the term ‘The New Aesthetics’, coined originally by designer James Bridle, has been bandied about to describe the new aesthetic sensibility available via the artefacts of digital technology and computer visualization. Recently Ian Bogost, one of the leading exponents of Object Oriented Ontology, took the idea to task for not going far enough or being weird enough. Taking his cue from his book Alien Phenomenology, or what it’s like to be a thing, Bogost declares the need for an object-oriented aesthetics, and suggests that

A really new aesthetics might work differently: instead of concerning itself with the way we humans see our world differently when we begin to see it through and with computer media that themselves “see” the world in various ways, what if we asked how computers and bonobos and toaster pastries and Boeing 787 Dreamliners develop their own aesthetics. The perception and experience of other beings remains outside our grasp, yet available to speculation thanks to evidence that emanates from their withdrawn cores like radiation around the event horizon of a black hole. The aesthetics of other beings remain likewise inaccessible to knowledge, but not to speculation—even to art.

Stanza’s work may be seen as offering something of what Bogost proposes, an object-oriented aesthetics, that enables non-human actants to participate in the processes of representation and art making, and in doing so finds a means of expression that is adequate to our complex, interconnected world.

For me Stanza does not conform to the traditional idea of the artist as someone who operates at the level of human aesthetics. It is rather as if he had taken it upon himself to be a channel for the expanded range of aesthetic experiences available beyond the human sensorium, and find some modes of expression that can make those experiences available to us. There is a sense, looking at and hearing his work, of it being a vanishingly small representation of a far greater set of possibilities, and it is only his human finitude that limits his production. Looking at the work on his ‘Central City’ website is overwhelming, perhaps deliberately so. In the end it may be that the most meaningful and challenging aspect of Stanza’s art is not to be found in individual works, or even in their collective existence, but in their excessive and overwhelming profusion, which hints at the almost infinite range of other outcomes that might also be possible.

Though it is clearly important to reflect upon the malign uses of new technologies, such as their use in state surveillance, and a role for art in doing so, Stanza’s work offers something different, which I can only describe as a joyful and even celebratory engagement in the possibilities of these new media, and in their capacity to offer new aesthetic experiences. This does not of course mean that he avoids the complex questions concerning technology and the environment that his work attends to, but that there is also a space for a celebration of what such technologies make possible.

 

URBAN AGE ELECTRIC CITY CONFERENCE REVIEW BY STANZA

December 10th, 2012

URBAN AGE  ELECTRIC CITY  CONFERENCE. A worldwide investigation into the future of cities. LONDON 6-7 DECEMBER 2012.

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I went along to this….

Maybe it was the venue, the Electric Light station but too many speakers acknowledged the venue as a landmark  site and rooted themselves in anecdotal reflection while failing to jump into speculative imaginings of a smart, connected, intelligent city which is what I was hoping for.

The conference started at a tangent when  it was side tracked / hi jacked  by the political with the PM David Cameron and Mayor Boris Johnson announcing a new initiative showing to a crowded room of designers and architects how a 50 million pound building that would be sited on a roundabout would be the centre of a new technological age.

From Craig Calhoun onwards the word infrastructure was the default position or reference point and maybe quite rightly. As an observation even cities without any notable infrastructure seem to have and behave like cities. Cities are systems. Rem Koolhaas observed and documented this lucidly several years back in his film about Lagos.

The smart city will be a system that is designed or at least implemented and to evaluate  this  two things were missing:-  real world examples and speculative  approaches with answers. The conference needed to find the new questions revolving around not only the climate based  issue and new migrations but also  this issue of the control space and the new virtual borders. Richard Sennet was wrong to suggest this technology (ref fibre optics etc) is too expensive for people to have in their own homes. I have two wireless sensor networks that I have developed and it hasn’t stopped me commenting and taking apart. Individual will drives political change.

Cities change rapidly because of events. These can be anything from acts of god, to events in other systems that cause change through initial unpredictable behaviour. Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum referenced the shipping container. It caused mass changes in labour markets and intitated globalisation. Ten years after the container was invented thousands of dockers had lost their jobs. The process of a city butterfly effect has knock on consequences.

Saskia Sassen, brought in another anecdote about gentrification of poor urban areas which led to a revival of the space and local park because dog owners where forced to walk their dogs in the park thus reviving local and public space; thus demonstrating causal effect on the organic system of the city.

And as much as Richard Sennet argues for the horizontal against the vertical, I would speculate that lines don’t matter anymore in the smart city as everything can be reduced by closeness to in the virtual world to being next to one another. In the smart city everything is compressed. The network system can ignore both the horizontal and the vertical and just make the connection. One doesn’t need to travel up or along but through space.

Adam Greenfield remarked that the city is controlled from above. From Gods eye to the electronic eye the world has always been controlled from above except now we have all become Gods eye. Since we can acknowledge this the Electric City missed an opportunity to  offer new  perspectives on how the legal profession will deal with this very new multi point perspective that is now available to all. “Order might start from below” as Jane Jacobs noted  but control is now in the heavens. The new  technologies which I call the mother of big  brother  will oversee all battles that get played out in out future cites and will act on them as purposed. The question therefore is how do we re-purpose the technology?

A point which Wolfgang Pietsch, Munich Center for Technology in Society alluded to. He said increased experimentation leads to more control. IE social; forecasting and predictive modelling and visualisation might be part of the problem.

Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Lab  pointed to a few of his examples where sensing and actuators can allows something to ” start to speak ” and found that accidents in the machine can illustrate ways forward. However people always find a way, and generally it’s that of least resistance. Erik Spiekermann noted that like sheep we will take or own route forcing the design to change for us.

The focus also came back to politics on day two with Anthony Giddens, whose brilliant keynote hi jacked the whole agenda focusing the audience into a reality of risk based around the political will and agency of the climate change problem.

Which was illuminated by the quote of the conference from Tessa Jowell, Member of Parliament, UK; “trust it’s too high to aspire to”.

And in that one short statement she hi-lighted an inflexibility in the system. Trust is imperative in everything we do, it is something everyone should aspire to, and a politician who cannot aspire to be trusted cannot by default be trusted.  The generation that cannot aspire to be trusted needs to get out the way. No politics is better that un-trusted politics. All system will find a path, all dogs need to be walked, all cites change and evolve. Out future and the future of the smart city is based on trust, both in the technology that it can serve us all and the trust that if we work together and share knowledge it will be for a better city.

Anthony Giddens, hi-lighted the importance of the moment we are now in and stressed its significance. We live in an age of high risk but great opportunity.

Stanza dec 2012

 

 

 

LONDON DIGITAL CITY by Lorenzo Taiuti

September 29th, 2009
stanza_gps_map

iMAGE: stanza gps maP. 2005

The image above by Stanza is a series of GPS walks in Bristol made in 2003.

LONDON DIGITAL CITY
Is London ( or could it be ) a “Digital City”?
So it seems it says the interesting show at the “Building Centre”, where about 20 architecture and design studios are proposing a selection of multimedia solutions and applications for the city. The city is analyzed and re-projected following the ideas and guidelines of information technologies, information and technical controls, the two parallel and opposite lines of the digital field.

Projects illustrate utopian projects through a wide use of applications like huge screens or elaborated audiovisual devices. All together, it’s the idea of the city as a network and information space. “The London City Model” of Gmj design reconstructs in 3d about 40 sq. km of the city, other groups work on a map of pollution in London like the studio “Casa” while “Atmos” designs an installation that maps the sun’s presence through the reception of data mapping meteorological stations around the world thus cataloging the different brightness in different cities of the planet.

The projects extend the digital applications in the field of design and they highlight the near future possibilities of digital to make the city more accessibile and to communicate its contents, to develop an architecture of communications that shows a city different from the delirious steel & crystal that the “archi-stars” are making as the main character of architecture.

Since the nineties, London has been one of the focal points of contemporary art.

How is the space in town for digital arts?
There is space, though not space for big shows, that are located more often in Liverpool, Hull or other minor centres. Since many of the languages are, (or are becoming by now digital, like video and photography), it’s more difficult to distinguish between digital arts and visual arts.
Video art is present in visual galleries like the “historical” “White Cube” that shows the latest works by Sam Taylor Wood, a video installation on 8 screens, “Sigh”, where an orchestra plays without instruments, while the musicians mime the actions of playng.

Prevalence of “feeling” over acting? Refusal of the image of things and reference to contents?
Beyond video the digital scene is still researching and experimenting on borderline spaces, developing in art colleges, or through some specialised galleries. But in the London public spaces there is just now a wide presence of Raphael Lozano Hemmer’s works, a big installation at Barbican Centre, where the public’s shadows activate radio waves, defining the invisibile presence of the innumerable signals that surround us.

Meanwhile, in the historical space of Trafalgar Square there is a big video installation, “Underscan”, sequences of video-portraits taken in northern England and based on virtual relationships through media. Sleeping people are activated by the shadows of passers-by and seem to contact the public with the purpose of involving the “other” alienated in society.
Where there is today an underground but steady growth of digital media in the artist’s field.
Integration of digital media is on its way in the art system and mainly in the teaching of the art colleges furnishing artists and materials for a an art scene particularly active like the London one.

These artists translate the digital and comunication language forms, that are by now more complex then in the 80’s and 90’s.

Stanza, artist and researcher at Goldsmith’s College works on definition of “topographies” called “Biocities” or “Innercities”, traces and paths through satellite projects or webcam, control cameras, etc… Like in “Urban Generations” that accumulates live-cctv sequences from different global points in an image of the city always renewed, post-producted in a collage of different engines re-elaborating data on view.

stanza artwork

IMAGE: Stanza artwork. Visualisation of data.

Stanza screenshot of live data visualisation of the city

The Goldsmith College itself works on new media and organizes conferences .
For example “Metadata”, with speakers such as Lev Manovich and Lozano Hemmer, who talk about using the data and the web digital memory as a platform a well as a tool itself, working on the accumulation of different fonts.

The Slade School’s approach to media is different, starting not so much from the media culture but from issues typical of contemporary arts. The section “Scemfa” teaches concepts of new media and has a website with news and works inside and outside the School. Several artists are teaching in the department (of digital media?). For instance, Susan Collins who, from the nineties, focuses her work on relationships between digital image and its development in time, following a given concept. As it happens in “Slow Fields”, where she gradually “leafs through”, or processes a landscape using a webcam putting it in a data base extending the image over a year. Codifying and encoding image as time based data as stripes of visualization, showing pixels reavealing the digital nature of the image. As in other works like “Harewood”, “Fenlandia” and “Glenlandia”, equally based on showing the material-immateriality of digital, exasperating its processes.

Also at Slade School, Simon Faithfull works on a “look from outside”, emphasizing mechanical movements, casual or pre-designed, recognizing spaces in a trip to Alaska as seen through an airplane porthole, or like the video “30 Km” shot from a weather balloon, or the whole circuit of a subway line. The target? Mapping space and mapping our relation with it.
While the digital area in London connects through “Node”, media network on the web, some galleries choose media-oriented languages like “http” directed by Mark Garrett, author of the “Furtherfield org”, proposing art on the net since a long time. The gallery “Http” wants to be related only to digital languages but located in a physical space that models the net and network concepts. “The Space”, has a long history and it’s a partly “no profit” structure that manages studios and low cost reidencies for young artists.

Just as a gallery, has opened to new media and is showing “New Media in Canada”, several Canadian artists using media culture: Peter Flemming, Germaine Koh, Joe Mackay, Nicholas Stedman, Norman White. The works, still very different for every artist, are all engaged in operations of measurments, reckonings, using technological tools and inserting tiny deviances outlining contradictions. Flemming’s boat contains water and does not navigate, Stedman’s robot ( remembering Deep Blue ) reacts to contact with human skin.
All works tend to find ironic solutions to the questions seriously posed by the “Technoart” in these years in dramatic tones. The “distance” taken from the digital issues by artists is shown in the choice of the tradition of “mechanical toys” and the odd structures of so many digital art devices, thus opening to a more fluid use of those same issues in plastic arts.
“Arts Catalysts” organizes shows in different spaces on “site specific” choices, networks and installations like “Nuclear. Art and Radioactivity”, working on the issue of nuclear energy, repositioning the problem in parallel with the new and controversial projects of nuclear structures.
The show, installed in an abandoned public structure, left the public alone to discover a video, “Half Life”, memories of an old nuclear centre, and a radioactivity detector signalling radiations in an empty and ruined office like in the movie “Stalker”. The techno-scientific issues raised by Arts Catalysts both with discussions and installations try to link creative issues to ecology, science, space and biotecnology.

Showing video as well is the classic I.C.A (even with vj) and the British Film Institute, with artists’ videos, and video-compilations by “Onedotzero”. And active as well groups about web-tv and vj like “AddictiveTv” and “ne1co” working on video languages and live media in a scene of mixed cultures both in clubs and on Net.

So in a very short visit Digital/London looks difficult to seize. It is more a collage of very different elements from established White Cube and Hunch of Venison gallerie, public spaces like Barbican Centre or Trafalgar Square or institutional structures like I.C.A.
Of course the main role is played by the experimental structures doing courageous shows like “The space”, “Http” and “Arts Catalysts” and a number of small groups working in the direction of net and public spaces.

While research structures and galleries look for a space of mediation with the public and the art system, a future change will surely come from the art colleges by now working with video and various softwares .
Out of “Media Arts”, the issues opened by use of digital instruments lead to consequent changes in the aesthetic production and in the productive role of the artists.
And they reveal many unknown quantities about the contemporary art system, today in full mediatic visibility and museum explosion, but still cautious towards the contents of the more radical digital arts.

Lorenzo Taiuti

Legalised surveillance in children’s toilets.

January 25th, 2009

Your are being watched

From the BBC comes one of my favourite posts to date.

CCTV in children’s toilets. Reading below I wonder what “major concern is”. I would have thought spying and watching young girls in a toilet via CCTV was a major concern. Why I wonder hasn’t every single parent withdrawn their children from this school. Surely the council should spend money more ethically. Ceredigion Council really need to go back to school on this one and have a think where such policies could really go.

From the BBC:

A teenage pupil has been withdrawn from her school after CCTV cameras were installed in the pupils’ toilets. Anthony White, from Llandysul told a newspaper that the cameras at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Ceredigion were an “outrageous invasion” of privacy. He said his 14-year-old daughter has also said she will not return to school while the cameras are still there. But Ceredigion Council said it had installed the cameras after incidents of “major concern” were reported.

Mr White told the Carmarthen Journal that he had taken his daughter out of the school over the cameras. “I think its an invasion of her privacy,” he told the paper.

“The whole place is like they’re on Big Brother. There are cameras all around the school, outside and in the corridors.” Ceredigion Council, which is the school’s local education authority (LEA), issued a statement saying the CCTV footage in the school’s toilet was only examined if an incident was reported. “The LEA understands the equipment to have been installed owing to pupils and cleaning staff reporting incidents that were of major concern to them,” the statement said.

“However, it is further understood that the CCTV footage is only examined should an incident be reported either by pupils or the cleaning staff.”

“Any such viewing of CCTV footage is undertaken by senior members of staff having Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance. “ The council said no other schools in Ceredigion are using CCTV in toilet areas used by pupils. “The Ceredigion LEA draws attention to the fact that pupil surveys undertaken throughout the country continually show situations that arise in school toilet areas are one of the main concerns expressed by pupils,” the statement continued.” Schools are, of course, required to consider the views and concerns of their pupils and take appropriate action.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7848791.stm