By Cole Goins.
What do you think about when you hear the word “surveillance?” Do you picture closed-circuit television cameras? Mass data collection by the National Security Agency? What about tools such as body cameras, license-plate readers andcellphone tracking devices used by your local police department? Did you even know those things existed?
Along with three local artists, The Center for Investigative Reporting posed those questions to residents in Oakland, California, in an experimental art-meets-journalism project dubbed “Eyes on Oakland.” Starting in April, we set out in the Mobile Arts Platform, a Ford Falcon van-turned-roving newsroom by collaborators Chris Treggiari and Peter Foucault, to visit neighborhoods across the city, inform residents about different types of surveillance technology used by local police and spark a dialogue about how they’re used.
Four months and a dozen pop-up events later, we had spoken with hundreds of our Oakland neighbors. Those conversations helped source an interactive installation at the Oakland Museum of California – our own artistic interpretation of the city’s Domain Awareness Center, a proposed surveillance hub for the Port of Oakland, which was scaled back from a proposed citywide system amid public outcry last year.