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article imageOrwell's birthday celebrated with party hats on surveillance cams

By Anne Sewell     Jun 29, 2013 in World
Utrecht - The famous author of "Nineteen Eighty-Four", George Orwell, would have turned 110 on June 25, 2013 if he was still with us. Two Dutch artists found the perfect way to celebrate his birthday in the current surveillance climate.
With the current revelations by Edward Snowden about the NSA's spying on citizens of the world, these artists could not have found a better way to celebrate Orwell's birthday.
Orwell was born on June 25, 1903, and the two Dutch artists, who call themselves FRONT404, decided to give him a celebration by creating an impromptu art exhibit in Utrecht, Netherlands.
What they did on Orwell's birthday was to place party hats on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras throughout Utrecht.
If you haven't heard of, or read, Orwell's novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four", the book tells the tale of a citizen of Oceania, a totalitarian society which lives under constant surveillance.
Winston Smith is a character in the book, who is employed to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always reflects the current party line of government, much like some people believe the Mainstream Media is doing today.
The two artists, Bas van Oerle and Thomas voor 't Hekke posted on the project's website:
"By putting these happy party hats on the surveillance cameras, we don't just celebrate Orwell's birthday. By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again, we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays, and that the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality."
Like many other cities in Europe these days, Utrecht has a series of cameras placed on walls and lamp posts throughout the city to monitor the activities of its citizens. To a certain extent, this is unobstrusive and is handy for solving or reducing crime activity in the city, however, the cameras do also raise legitimate concerns on privacy and whether it is actually moral to monitor innocent people.
With all the news about the NSA and their surveillance activities worldwide, this artistic prank is appropriate indeed.
Rather like the government of Orwell's fictional Oceania, the National Security Agency appears to have gone a little overboard in monitoring the activities of the people of the world online and by telephone, and also storing their actions in an attempt to root out potential "national security threats."
And now, the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden who told the world about this surveillance is accused under the Espionage Act of being a traitor to his country.
A passport photo showing George Orwell during his time in Burma.
A passport photo showing George Orwell during his time in Burma.
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George Orwell:
George Orwell, the famous author, was born Eric Arthur Blair, in British-ruled India before emigrating to England with his family in the early 1900s. Orwell served as an Imperial Policeman in Burma before returning to Europe, where he took up writing for a living.
While it is good to remember and celebrate the works of Orwell, it is scary indeed to this they may have been taken as being how-to manuals, instead of fiction.
More photos of the birthday event can be viewed on FRONT404's website.
More about George Orwell, 1984, Birthday, party hats, surveillance cameras
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