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Movie Created From China’s Public Surveillance Cameras

Believe it or not, a movie has been created solely from surveillance camera videos. Xu Bing, one of China’s noted artists, spent four years collecting such videos from all over China to create the movie. He hoped that through this movie people will consider the impact of having surveillance cameras constantly capturing them.

When asked about the project, Xu Bing commented: “Actually, I think the whole world has become a gigantic film studio, and in this studio there are countless cameras found everywhere.”

He used more than 10,000 hours of public surveillance video to create the movie that has no actors and no photographers, yet he has linked them together. Every scene reflects the daily lives of Chinese people.

A number of years ago after watching a program about public surveillance, he found the inspiration. He began to collect a variety of surveillance videos from his friends who work in security, and through his contacts in television, to establish a database that was organized and edited into the movie he entitled Dragonfly Eyes.

He explains: “In the past, such monitoring was done by the government, but it has spread out from the government to everyone.” He continued by describing how the movie shows the relationship between people’s live’s and the monitoring systems, as well as the changes in peoples’ attitudes toward these systems. In China, it has become the norm to scan a person’s face as a way to identify someone who wishes to withdraw money, order food, or stay in a hotel. There are even face recognition systems to stop people from taking excess toilet paper from public toilets.

According to The Wall Street Journal reporter Josh Chin: “At present, there is a total of 170 million surveillance cameras installed in China, and there are more than 10 cameras behind the Forbidden City in Beijing. An analyst remarked that the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] plans to install 450 million surveillance cameras before Year 2020.”

Surveillance cameras were once utilized solely by government bureaus. Now, they have been assimilated into the daily lives of people and even bring business opportunities. The point of Dragonfly Eyes is to give the audience a different point of view and something to think about.

Translated by: Chua BC

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David Jirard
For several years David has been a contributor to various news sites that focus on the news and culture of China.

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