We believe in CCTV as an almost absolute truth, an above-human system literally watching over us. It defines a new urban reality. How do we fit in this panopticonal reality and how do we know if we even exist in it? Does the system register our reality or its own? If we are aware of being watched, are we then still a suspect? Are we then still being watched?
I am always here is a video installation by Sylvain Vriens that deals with CCTV and the way it influences our reality. It features a CCTV-system that monitors the room in which it is present. It does this in real-time, showing the events in the room instantaneous. It seems to show an exact copy of our reality. The monitor and camera hang just above door-height and look down on those visiting the room.
I am always here is a seemingly normal CCTV-system. It hangs fairly unnoticed on the wall of the room and most people will walk past without noticing. But once it is noticed and a visitor looks up trying to see himself, he will only see the surrounding room and just a glimpse of his own image quickly fading out. It is as if he views the room as it would look without him being present.
The CCTV-system creates its own reality by filtering out those things that it finds 'uninteresting'. In the case of I am always here it filters out the people who are aware of its existence. CCTV’s preventive powers are claimed to be based upon awareness. A person looking straight into the camera is fully aware of being surveilled and won’t be seen as a possible suspect and is uninteresting from a surveillers point of view.