Whose Eyes?

All over the world big brother is expanding his surveillance network. Cameras on every corner, aerial drones patrolling the skies beneath omniscient satellites, telephones are tapped, web traffic scanned and machines see you naked in airport security lineups. And yet we’re not allowed to videotape police or take pictures of national monuments. Clearly something is up.

Today I went down to the Canal Lachine with my camera because I heard that there was going to be a parade of sorts of classic boats arrived for the Classic Boat Show this weekend in the old port. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get started on my project to create artistic portraits of various Montreal landmarks, neighbourhoods, etc. I walked all the way to the Cote St-Paul Lock with my heavy tripod and got setup just in time for a boat to be coming out of the opening locks. A great shot. Until…

“Monsieur! Monsieur! Tu ne peut pas faire ca!”

Seriously? I can’t film a boat coming out of the locks? I can’t film something in a National Parc that my tax dollars go towards? I can’t film something that thousands of tourists film each year, just because I’m using more professional looking equipment?

Now I could have argued with him on these and numerous other grounds, he was afterall on the other side of the lock and about to open the gates. He’s also a parc staffer, not a cop, he can’t take my camera away or really demand anything of me. Still, I wasn’t in the mood for getting into a rout with someone, especially when I still want to contact the Parc Service and get some insider’s access to make this documentary segment on the canal. I’m trying to promote them for goodness sake! Fuck.

This is a problem that photographers and videographers are running into all the time, and yet cameras are more ubiquitous than ever. Your cellphone surely has a camera doesn’t it? There’s those security cameras everywhere. Face facts. Nobody can control images anymore, so quit picking on those of us who do it openly, do it well, even do it for a living. If anyone’s got the right to be persnickity about unauthorized filming it should be all of us who’re monitored walking down the street, buying groceries, checking email, etc. etc. Wake up people. THEY are watching us, yet they’re afraid of us watching back.

So now I’m trying to decide whether to let this afternoon’s incident at the lock roll off my back and talk to them about this video project in glowing tones like a good little citizen, or whether I should raise a little stink about my rights to take pictures of what I damn well please without some staffer getting in my face. I think I’ll go for the former just for my professional interests, but damn I’m still kinda pissed off.


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