Is your identity at risk when you enter the public sphere?

As part of a previous university assignment, I mounted a camera and tripod in the middle of Pitt Street mall in Sydney and filmed the daily movements of shoppers and those going through the outdoor area, notorious for its sales people and buskers. I thought nothing of it, I wasn’t outing these people singularly nor did I have bad intentions for the film, it was merely an art piece. After about 10 minutes, a middle aged lady approached me and voiced her concern.

She did not wish for footage of her to be visible anywhere. I politely asked why because I honestly was curious why people are uncomfortable being filmed. She replied that she did know where or how the footage would be used, what if it was for a propaganda video that she didn’t support? I fully understood her point and explained that the purpose of my footage would be for a university art piece and the concept behind it. I then asked her for her permission and she still declined but did not make me delete the footage. I said no worries but still continued to film.

In the end I still did use the footage containing her. Not out of spite but honestly because I sped the film up, her face was blurred anyway and the aesthetic of the shot was nice. Do I feel bad that I went against her wishes? No because I didn’t use the footage for negative purposes, nor was her identity clear and also what I was doing was not illegal, she chose to enter the public sphere that day. How would I feel if someone filmed me the same way? I wouldn’t mind but would probably walk out of the shot. I would not actively seek interaction with the camera but I am also not concerned for my privacy.

How do you feel about being filmed in a busy environment for the sake of someone’s university assignment? What if you didn’t know what it was for, does that change your opinion?

TSF Pitt St 4-thumb-400x225-79182

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