Alternative Souvenir

CCS

For our first CCS project we looked at souvenirs and ways we could create an alternative souvenir to tell an alternative story of London. I focussed on the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Clock Tower or Big Ben.  After looking through the current souvenir options available, I finally settled on a ‘Build your own’ model.

The houses of parliament have been the seat of British government since 1295. The original Palace of Westminster, built in the middle ages, was destroyed in a fire in 1834. The gothic structure we see today was designed by Sir Charles Barry. “The Elizabeth Tower, which stands at the north end of the Houses of Parliament, was completed in 1859”

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I chose to model my souvenir on Big Ben because of its connection to the Houses of Parliament. Both parts of the building were built by people who would never see its profit. This has always intrigued me, and if we analyze the majority of individuals within, we find that, especially the House of Lords, consist mainly of white upper class males. A far cry from the makeup of those who created it. This theme can be seen in many areas of London. The gentrification of previously run-down areas, paving the way for the rise of the middle-upper class and forcing the inhabitants to move elsewhere.

With these ideas in mind, I decided to manipulate the famous landmark of Big Ben and add my own twist. I added printed £50 notes and covered the entire exterior of the model to represent that the government and individuals within parliament, who hold an unequal amount of the wealth of Britain and control the distribution of funding throughout the country. The printed £50 notes I chose to use served a dual purpose.

Not only do they symbolise financial inequality but “Under section 18(1) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 it is a criminal offence for any person, without the prior consent in writing of the Bank of England, to reproduce on any substance whatsoever, and whether or not on the correct scale, any Bank of England banknote or any part of a Bank of England banknote.” By constructing my alternative souvenir my audience would be breaking the law, an act of rebellion in itself.

Do you feel safe yet?

CCS

What an inspiring lecture for Critical and Contextual Studies with Tom and Dipti! This week we have been exploring power and surveillance in the city. We started by recording every form of surveillance that captures you on the journey to university, looking not only at security cameras but also items that record your movements such as oyster and bank cards.

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Surveillance is not only a means of crime prevention it’s also a very effective way of controlling large groups of people without any physical intervention, the idea that “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

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London is supposedly the most watched city of Earth. “Based on David Davis’ estimate, which is still unrivalled, the figure of how many CCTV cameras there are in London stands at around one camera for every 14 people, adding up to a total of about 422,000” But is this an invasion of people privacy?

There is also a backlash to this form of surveillance, artists like Banksy use security cameras in artwork, exploring a satirical narrative of our CCTV culture. You cant help but think of Orwell’s classic novel ‘1984’ has Orwell’s nightmare of a dystopian future come true? Check out the Telegraph article on Banksy’s CCTV in Oxford Street, London from 2008.

Banksy’s work begs the question has Orwell’s fiction become our reality?