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London, United Kingdom

It was a dark and stormy day: I had arrived in London. It turned out that before I was to travel to Wales, I needed to stay in London for the Arcadia orientation. The first couple of days were fairly regimented; meetings, lectures, and a tour or two, but by Wednesday we were pretty much on our own.

The most interesting meeting occurred on Tuesday. That afternoon three members of the British Parliament (Labour party, Conservative party, and Liberal Democrat party were all represented) came to answer any questions we had for them! I asked about the surveillance in the UK. On the plane ride up I had read an article about an eight year old girl caught on surveillance hiding a pair of her friend's shoes. On account of cameras in the classroom, the girl was given a yellow slip (after three of those she would be suspended). The mother of the girl whose shoes were hidden was pleased, and the mother of the girl who was punished was outraged. She said she had liked the idea of the cameras to begin with, but she felt that using them for the purposes of punishing a little girl's prank was extreme, and she no longer felt they were a good idea. After reading "Little Brother" on account of Tommy's recommendation (http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ :It talks about how surveillance is eroding our rights to privacy) I agree with the outraged mother.

All of the parliament members felt uncomfortable with so many cameras, and the steadily increasing numbers of cameras, but they said that until there was a "more normal" way to keep track of crime, cameras were part of governmental systems. The Labour Party representative mentioned that people ask for more cameras in the streets, so I wonder how equivalent people's sense of security in having cameras is compared to the actual security cameras offer.

On Wednesday evening we were given tickets to go see Queen's rock opera musical: "We Will Rock You" which was fantastic. The costuming and music were amazing, and more than made up for the contrived plotline.

Thursday was a free day. After mentioning the graffiti artist Banksy to one of the Arcadia Representatives, she let me borrow her Banksy tour of London book (!) so I spent the day going on my own graffiti tour of London!

I spent a long time thinking about the reading Emily picked out for my Paideia group last semester about graffiti, and the aesthetic of control. It seemed, especially after the discussion about surveillance, more and more silly that graffiti is taboo, and in addition to being aware of graffiti on the walls, I was more aware of blank white or beige walls, and how boring that can be!

Most of Banksy's work was destroyed, painted over, or completely missing. :(

It was really fun to look for his graffiti though; I went to parts of London I never would have seen otherwise, and I found it really interesting that while some people had stolen his work to sell it on ebay, some people made an effort to paint around it. Other graffiti artists tagged on or near his work (like the puzzle piece on the rat's sign). The book I was using was written by a graffiti fan who just notices the world around him.

I'm Jealous
permalink written by  outlawedwings on January 23, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: triple_strung_heart
tagged London, England, Graffiti, Banksy, Paint, Rat, Arcadia, StudyAbroad and Surveillance

Send a Compliment

1) I can't even begin to explain how excited/jealous I am you actually found Banksy pieces.

2) I feel honored that my reading merited mention in your posting.

3) I have discovered, and it seems like you are, too, that actually studying walls as you pass them makes for a whole new concept of seeing a city. I've had to actually remind myself to look at buildings, too, because I get so distracted by posters and stickers and paint.

4) Surveillance is crazy!!! I have a really cool picture from the really big demonstration I went to about surveillance that, if you haven't already seen, I'll have to share.

permalink written by  Emily on January 24, 2009

Emily - Love that you've seen "real" Banksies. What an odd concept, though, huh? Great that something has already pulled up a Paideia memory for you! -KS

permalink written by  Kimberly Smith on January 25, 2009

Oops, and of course by "Emily" I meant, Stephanie. Ack.

permalink written by  Kimberly Smith on January 25, 2009

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