The Art of State Accommodation: Surveillance as Incarceration

Magali and I often find ourselves in the unenviable position of witnessing brutal racism, marginalisation or in this case woeful and premeditated control of Aboriginal communities by Government funded initiatives with buyin from a royalty rich few. The point of this article is to bring to the attention for those who are unaware of a situation occurring presently in Broome, Western Australia and to connect those who have a vested interest in this situation with those who can do something useful about it.

Today I so happened to be driving up Pembroke Road in Broome, Western Australia when I came across a hub of activity. Tradie utes were everywhere hastily assembling some hideous surveillance cameras on the margins of a sprawling complex of tin housing and concrete pads. The surveillance cameras themselves with their sharp, spear like anti-climb form are perhaps one of the most negatively provocative symbols I've seen (similar to prisons, detention centres and war concentration camps) on any contemporaneous architecture to date.

What occurred to me is that despite the glowing rhetoric of the website (that the five metre didactic panel pointed to) is that I'm pretty certain the whole schema of surveillance, it's chilling effect and the unintended consequences of this supposed civic design has not been thoroughly thought through. So, I put that first thought out to a few of the mob here in Broome and also on Facebook and got some pretty angry responses from those who consider the complex to be a certain disaster.

 "....WTF? This looks like they're setting up prison camps for homeless mob in Broome not short stay accommodations. There is such a shortage of housing and some just can't afford the rents being asked. Another way Indigenous Australians are disrespected and controlled in our own land!" - Dale [surname suppressed]

So, it occurs to me that a short paper that asks the hard questions about where the surveillance data flows, why it is deemed necessary and who controls the space and so on is required. Like, which architect seriously thought this was a good idea for a short stay Aboriginal housing complex?

I put it to a few people that I'll write a short paper for public comment and I've received some positive encouragement to do so from an Aboriginal woman who is willing to support my creation of the paper.


These ill considered ventures would turn Foucault in his grave. Anyway, I'm writing a short paper up and I'll post the link to the manuscript here then the completed paper will be made available here for download.