The public realm - both as a physical and virtual space - has increasingly and insidiously become a privately owned and managed environment where under watchful and anonymous eyes, the activities and behaviours of the public are both monitored and controlled. Loitering or meandering generates a suspicious glance; the gathering of groups is perceived as a threat; desire lines must be hastily overwritten with pathways that tow the agreed and official line.
Photographers lurking in the ambiguous shadows and darkened alleyways away from the corporate branding are a special target of security guards and police in the public domain. They are targeted under wrongful suspicion in relation to the anti-terrorism legislation enacted after 9/11; wrongful suspicion of anti-social behavior when there‘s no legitimate evidence to support the suspicions and accusations that result in the photographer being stopped for being a potential terrorist.
The law and legislation provided to the police are being pushed and misused to the extent that it is creating a hostile environment for public photography. Members of the public and media do not need a permit to photograph in public and that the police and security guards do not have the power to stop them from filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.
Yet photographers have been stopped without having any reasonable suspicion on the grounds that taking images could be constituted as antisocial behavior.Taking a photograph in the public space is deemed to be risky and potentially threatening to the authorities.
The resurgence of interest in the act of walking or 'wandering', within contemporary artistic practices, with their roots in the Surrealist errance and Situationist derive, can be viewed as a critical tool or conduct through which to challenge or subvert the logic of the various surveillance systems.