Watching from Below Rather Than Above
Written By: Steve Mann
Date Published: July 10, 2009
"When Canadian police tasered Robert Dziekanski –- a man who had arrived in Vancouver International airport in October 2007 from Poland – it was not the surveillance cameras that helped bring the incident to light. It was witness Paul Pritchard who captured the killing on his camera phone. Dziekanski was tasered at least twice and then beaten by police.
This is but one example of citizens capturing their ordinary day-to-day life activities and uncovering crimes that have previously escaped capture by surveillance that looks only “from above.” Clearly, there is value in looking in all directions -- an ordinary citizen can round out the perspective provided by surveillance cameras by watching people “from below” with a simple hand-held camera phone.
Sousveillance – the inverse of surveillance – is the general activity of an individual capturing a first-person recording of an activity from his or her own perspective as a participant in the activity. Rather than watching "from above," the French “sous” means “under” or “from below.”
This is “undersight” rather than oversight – looking upwards from below.
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