'. $site_title .'Rose Butler


Special Operations: Deploying Artists' Methods to Investigate Surveillance

This practice-based study takes place during the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act (2016) in the Houses of Parliament followed by analysis of archival film, video and photography from hidden cameras at the Stasi Archive, Berlin.

The study considered arts practice within the framework of surveillance practices: observation, data collection and analysis. The methodological approach added definition to arts research methods whilst generating unique insights into contemporary surveillance practices.

The research explores the technologies that define the ‘image’ through an exploration of their material qualities. Through these processes different forms of representation particularly of sensitive material, sites or contested spaces are problematised.

This body of work consists of large photographic prints, audio samples and films. The spine of the work is a series of performance lectures that weave political, spatial and fictional histories. By working with the narratives that surround and shape us, through literature, personal account, journalism and observation, the work explores social or political commentary.

Still from archival training material at the Stasi Records Agency; Berlin.

Anonymised practice surveillance image taken with a hidden buttonhole camera.

I selected a range of material from the Stasi Film and Video Archive; Berlin, for this research. This includes footage and negatives that has been semi destroyed through magnetic and manual sabotage, multi-camera surveillance of hidden protests, just before the 1989 revolution and 1960's MfS training material designed for agents to learn hidden, (in briefcase), camera technique.

Noise 9: Photographic print.
Retro spyware was used covertly whilst the Investigatory Powers Bill was debated, to question what might become visible when surveillance techniques are repurposed to look at surveillance. I took photographs on a Minox Cold War spy camera, in areas where documentation was not advised, and recorded Audio on a 1960's Dictaphone. This was a way of considering the dynamics of privacy and security whilst this also formed the content of the debate around the bill. More information can be found here.

Noise 2: Photographic print.

Photography is limited to certain areas in Parliament to protect privacy and copyright laws, but inside the toilets you can photograph freely.