Diet Soap

Everybody knows that we’re being watched. We see the cameras, and the signs telling us there are cameras, and some of us are pretty sure there are hidden cameras no one is going to tell us about. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter: we’re not criminals, we’re small fry, no one is looking for us. Sometimes one or two of us will wave cutely at someone we will never see watching a monitor somewhere. And sometimes a few of us decide to put on a show.

Diet Soap, a “surrealist/anarchist” zine, decided to meditate on surveillance for its premiere issue, using fiction and essays to lay out the historical and cultural implications of a society that’s always being watched. The highlight and centerpiece is a historical essay put together by the Surveillance Camera Players. They tell the story of how modern police surveillance techniques were developed in response to resistance by suffragette protesters to the standard practice of photographing suspects. After the introduction urging readers resist the cameras and the people behind them, it’s reasonable to suppose that there would be more stories of protest, more anarchist how-tos. But aside from maps showing the location of every camera in two New York neighbourhoods, the rest of the pieces are simply studies and outlines of the human psyche under glass. This is an entertaining read, and the fiction is top-notch, but not nearly proactive enough to truly call itself “anarchist.” (J. Blackmore)

Litzine, Doug Lain & M.K. Hobson, issue 1–Surveillance, Diet Soap, 1321 Monroe Street, Oregon City, OR 97405, www.dietsoap.org, douglain@dietsoap.org, mikhobson@dietsoap.org

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