Click here to watch the video diary from Saturday
Seemingly not aware of the idea of a lie in, we were woken bright and early by our German hosts and taken off to a local activist centre for a tasty breakfast. Here we began to prepare props for our action later in the day.
The plan for the action was to get everyone dressed up with paper bags on their heads (anti CCTV masks!) then going on a tour of Leipzig marking out places under the watchful eye of CCTV surveillance. After a useful translation by Dagmar we stamped up a number of tags as either “This spot is unsafe here you are not under surveillance” or “This spot is safe, here you are under surveillance”, giving them red and green spots respectively.
We then headed off to the steps of the art gallery where everyone had been asked to meet us. The posters and stickers put up had obviously done their job and around seventy people were there to meet us. After decorating our masks, and dishing out the tags we had it was nearly time to head off. Agent Nutroast gave everyone an explanation of what we were all going to do in both German and English, then Peter from Leipziger Kamera started our tour.
Walking through a foreign city with dozens of people with paper bags on their heads is a very surreal experience. We toured the American Embassy, several road cameras and then headed into the town centre. It was a learning experience for us Hijackers as most of our actions happen on a very personal level with people on the streets. This obviously was made really hard with our faces covered and not being able to speak the local language. We found the action worked better when we were able to interact with the people we met rather than just walking around as a tour. Luckily we had made a bundle of extra paper bag masks, and handing these out as anti-cctv protection to people we met on the streets. Several, many more than we expected, people took the bags and wandered off to do their shopping masked up.
Last of all we attempted a game we had created especially for CCTV. LOVE VS HATE is a game inspired by the many tales of surveillance operators missing crimes as they were busy watching pretty girls walk the street. The game is simple, find a camera that can be moved by the operator behind it, then split into two teams, Love and Hate. The teams move to opposite ends of the cameras reach, then compete to attract the operators attention. The Love team do this by kissing, groping and hugging each other, the Hate team, well they fight each other.
Unfortunately the camera we had intended to use, strapped onto the side of the main railway station had been put onto automatic when we arrived. Undaunted by the sheer impossibility of a judge we decided to have a test run of the game. Love as always won.
The two teams then headed into the station (which apparently has over 400 cameras in it) for a drink to toast a successful day, still with faces covered by our bags.
After a spot of dinner we headed back to the gallery for the final talk of our tour. This time it was a talk given by agent Nutroast (our only German speaking agent) on developments in CCTV. None of the rest of the Hijackers knew exactly what he was going to say, although there were rumors it was going to be quite ‘provoking’. He ended up talking through a number of artists, films and projects, explaining the positive aspects of CCTV. Coming from a city saturated in surveillance coverage his point was that it is nearly impossible to remove the cctv, instead we should look at the possibilities it can give us for freedom, expression and equality. I’m not sure I entirely agreed with him, and I’m certain several of the Leipziger Kamera people were dead set against it. Never the less, we never expected a Hijacker visit to be anything less than thought provoking.
After the questions, and arguments had died down it was time to freshen up for another night out on the town. The Hijackers went back to base camp, had a bit to drink, recorded possibly the best German translation video ever made, and then finally made to the club we were expected at by just gone midnight. Agent Cupcake took control of the turntables, agents Greenman and Totty (who had joined us during the talks) took care of the tequila, and we were back on the rollercoaster.
I remember walking down to the basement of the club at around 5am to find Andreas from Leipziger Kamera dozing on an armchair whilst next to him a pile of drunken Hijackers were pogoing on the dancefloor. After Greenman had decided to buy the rest of the bottle of Tequila from the barman, we had offended pretty much everyone there, and Bicycle Girl had claimed Daniel as her man, we decided it was time to move on.
The next bar was a bit of a haze to be fair. However disaster struck at around 7am in the form of a hit and run driver whacking into agent Undecided on the street outside. A quick somersault from our would be James Bond and it was time to sort ourselves out.