No timelapse video from the Panopticam project today, so picture’s resolution is not great.
Obviously, this message was inspired by a phenomenon increasingly common in today’s urban world. Privatised areas with public pathways or of public interest (in some cases even previously owned by public authorities and sold or subject to concession as an agreement) have been mushrooming in medium and large cities around the world. London has been an attractive target to this kind of managerial practice for years and there are several areas of interest of the public around the city signposted as private land (see picture below).
These places are usually carefully monitored by private security personnel and rely on a great number of (many times very visible) surveillance and security technologies. Contracts and regulation restrict the number of activities that are and are not allowed in these areas. Group gathering, skate boarders, and long stays of certain individuals are among the “most feared” occurrences, and therefore commonly prohibited. There are many articles on newspapers and journal papers about this controversial option for the viability of urban land renovation. The Guardian published many of these (here, here and here), and also tried to build a database of privatised publicly used areas in the UK. This debate is also very alive around the building permissions for a private garden bridge, to be built between Temple and the South Bank, in London. As part of the agreement, if the plan goes ahead, visitors “will be tracked by their mobile phone signals and supervised by staff with powers to take people’s names and addresses and confiscate and destroy banned items, including kites and musical instruments.”
Fear of “the other”, or fear of “the unexpected” are common motivations for flooding these areas with exaggerated security and repulsive/aggressive behaviour. Today’s message was influenced by this kind of treatment to areas of public interest, implying that this is the same as to deny public space in its essence, and therefore to renounce the city.