One Nation Under CCTV

“What kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. Something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons.” George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four




It’s been a while since I opened up Photoshop for a bit of cheeky image editing, so here’s the latest experimental result! This one depicts a very British dystopia. George Orwell remains an infinitely quotable chap for this sort of subject, and I highly recommend his thought-provoking literary works. 'Nineteen Eighty Four' was a truly visionary undertaking – it foreshadowed the concept of a surveillance society long before the development of modern day technologies that would make it all possible.


Britain is leading the world when it comes to CCTV. It has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China. The exact number of them in the UK is not known but an estimate in 2002 counted the figure at well over four million. The methodology of collecting such statistics is rather vague but reasonable research suggests that our country now has one camera for every 14 people.


The security infrastructure being created, whilst valid in many respects, presents a plethora of worrying possibilities. The coupling of CCTV cameras with facial recognition algorithms that track people through crowds, read registration plates and log all this data for future use is handy for current civil enforcement but leaves the door open for the state of the future to have profound levels of control over society.


(Thanks go to Richard Dawkins and the editors of Boing Boing for using the image to illustrate this article and sending lots of visitors here as a result.)

  • I.K.Brunel 4y

    Another, excellent.
  • Michael Rossow 4y

    Nice Work!!
  • Pete Birkinshaw 4y

    That giant robot is looking at my previous flat...

    [peers through curtains]
  • Ottilie Simpson 4y

    ARRRGH we're all going to dieeeeeee!!!!

    Hehe. Love the edit, it's really cool!
    *keeps calm and carries on* ;)
  • Bobbyconrad 4y

    I like this, it makes me smile!
  • kamal arafa 4y

    Haha, brilliant work!
  • Neil Aiston 4y

    Serious point, well made. (Even if somewhat understated.)
  • Max 4y

    A very cool photoshopping job and a sad fact. It seems that the UK government is freaked out by what they think their subordinates might be up to. Sick, somehow.
    And even sicker, that so many other governments want to imitate yours :-(
  • The Neepster 4y

  • Sven Loach 4y

    Very clever work here. Poignant political art/ photography.

    Seen in 'A Picture of Britain'.
  • Jim and Lorretta 4y

    "I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me. "
    — Banksy.

    Nice work dear boy.
  • nocturnal_kiwi_bird 4y

    Well said! These cameras have to eliminated for the sake of freedom and human decency.
  • Steve Swis 4y

    Clever work, image and text.
  • Irwellian 4y

    The camera would have been helpful for the council for what used to go on around there. :)
  • Georges Rousseau 4y

    Good job this!!!!!!
  • 95wombat 4y

    I had exactly the same impression on our visit to England. Cameras everywhere, even on the old facades in the charming Cotswold villages. Not that I had anything to hide...
    Last month I talked to an English expatriate who said that wasn't her impression. But she's been living here in New York for a long time.
    Cool image, by the way!
  • Adam_T4 4y

    Great social commentary and great imagery. Who watches the watchers, and who's watching them?
  • smallblu 4y

    amazing!, excellent idea and work.
  • Michael Thompson 4y

    This is the apparatus of a global police state my friend. Good work.
  • Bill Weinberg 4mo

    Tom, used your image on my website, with a link back to this page...
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Taken on June 26, 2010
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