Big Brother to the Rescue? Or not. Or?

WARNING -- challenging video of fatal police brutality.

[edit: links to news about the above incident, added May 11, 2012]

Kelly Thomas of Fullerton California died as a result of injuries incurred by police on July 5th, 2011.

Here are the top few search results of "About 31,600 results" from Google.

CCTV as spectacle
news as entertainment
image as representation
voyeurism (amateur porn) as a contribution to panopticon
acknowledgment as a function of remembrance

The Department of Community Monitoring is in part, about this. As challenging as this brutal film is to watch, panopticism, surveillance and CCTV sets up an opportunity to practice community justice, (whatever that really means). While we may not want to live with being watched by security cameras - that this event was captured in it's entirety is serving an important community function, without record, without panopticon, the men inflicting torture as discipline and ultimately death, would be able to continue working to inflict discipline/torture which has long been established as unacceptable functions of law enforcement (whatever law was being challenged here). The punishment far outweighed the crime.

When I began the project I questioned the function of Big Brother, I was challenged by the voyeurism of CCTV, I was challenged by the imposition of the panopticon, I was challenged by the intent of making the films public. However after watching countless hours of videos like the one above, I've concluded that we most certainly need to participate in the monitoring system.

As part of the work,  I have animated one video of a similar nature, I spent so much time with it, boiling it down, drawing each frame of a brutal attack, I had plenty of time to place myself in a victims shoes (I know that the attacker was arrested, but know not of the victims recovery). I'm somewhat relieved that cameras were present to participate in facilitating arrest and conviction of a brutal attacker. Even if the the cameras make me uncomfortable and challenge my politics. 

I was planning to animate additional footage of a more triumphant nature (the attacked turns the tables and opens some whoopass), but the process, detail and time I have to spend with the violent footage ended up giving me nightmares. I had to switch to lighter content (the masturbation footage for example) just so I could proceed.

I may animate the footage above, because it's timely- responding to current events is interesting, I have another video that I animated that I found through the current news, it took me a few days, but the contemporary nature of the material lingers well enough. Additionally the material presented above will always be timely.

The DCM has put me in contact with a kind of violence I don't normally expose myself to, I have been looking the other way, paving my brain bone with animated kitten gifs for far too long.  


  1. Q,
    I get home from the hospital (all went well, thanks for the thought)and all hell beaks out.I apologize for my comments on your house move--but you did sound upbeat to my ears. And then the latest posts (except for the cat boxing) I don't know how to express myself. All of your comments and videos were very powerful (although some didn't seem to run), but leave me unsettled. I'm sure that you had plenty of coverage of the May 1st protests in Portland as we did in Seattle. I don't like to see people beaten, people busting up cars, windows, or hurting other people when they say they are angry just with the "institutions". I guess I am just too old to enjoy the gang fights of grade schools and high school. I like your stuff and I hope your next 60 years are better than what we seem to hae today.


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