People love to watch: From Mr Rumbold to Julian Assange

Almost forty years ago, a 1974 episode of the British television comedy Are You Being Served? played out in burlesque many of the problems and possible pleasures of hidden camera surveillance now being explored, with various inflections, through art.1 The episode’s title, Big Brother, referred to George Orwell’s prophetic dystopian novel 1984 and not to the later, syndicated television program – named after the novel’s evil panoptical presence – that proved some of its predictions. This Big Brother is set in Grace Brothers’ department store, where a CCTV system installed to combat shoplifting in Menswear and Ladies’ Intimate Apparel is immediately used to watch the staff instead of the customers.

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Source: Artlink

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