11 Art and Design Projects That Will Change the Way You Look at Security Cameras

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
June 3, 2014

We all know what security cameras look like. In fact, we’re so used to seeing them that we hardly notice them.

We’re even welcoming surveillance equipment into our homes. Read: The Domestication of Surveillance: We Are the Watchers.

But a number of artistic, design, and activist projects have set out to make us see these ubiquitous objects in new ways. Here are our favorites:

1. Rhinestone-encrusted security cameras


Artist Jill Magid’s System Azure project, “hand-glued rhinestones to security cameras at the Amsterdam Headquarters of Police using permanent adhesive.” This cuts right to the heart of a key question about security cameras: As long as they see us, shouldn’t we be sure to notice them?

2. Security cameras recording nothing


Street artist SpY installed “150 fake CCTV cameras on the facade of a building [in Madrid] with the intention of watching over nothing.” 

3. Every security camera on a 1.4-mile walk

For the photo project “Every CCTV Camera,” James Bridle documented “Every CCTV camera between my house and Dalston Junction: 1.4 miles, 140 cameras.” Flickr set is here.

4. A security camera that cannot meet your gaze

(ben chang/Vimeo)

The (In)Security Camera: If you walk up and look right at it, it looks away. “The camera is, in fact, a little insecure.”

5. Adorable security cameras


Taking a lighter approach: Italian firm Parson offers cameras in cute and whimsical shapes: That’s not a threat to your privacy, it’s an adorable squirrel! Or maybe it’s both?

7. “Security camera” that’s totally for the birds

How about a bird feeder that looks like a classic CCTV camera? Just $19.99!

 7. That time security cameras partied for Orwell

To celebrate George Orwell’s birthday: Party hats adorned cameras around Utrecht, Netherlands. (Thanks to some enterprising artists, not the city itself, of course.)

8. Security cameras as decorative object

Asymmetric Love Number 2 was “intended to mimic an iconic baroque chandelier” that just happens to be made out of CCTV cameras. “Surveillance is not perceived as a direct threat, which becomes the biggest threat of all.”

9. DIY security (pinhole) camera

(Prosthetic Knowledge)

The Pinhole CCTV Kit, a how-to: “Turn this five page template into a functioning pinhole CCTV camera.” 

10. Security camera as home furnishing

Surveillance 100: “This ironic work uses the typical appearance of a surveillance camera to create a striking standing lamp.” Perhaps this will keep your guests on their best behavior when you’re out of the room?

11. And finally, just because it’s impossible to resist

 This GIF.

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. RSS lover? Paste this URL into your reader of choice: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/author/rob-walker/rss.

Note: This post was updated to correct the number of security cameras on the Madrid street art project — not 15, but 150.