Learning from audio-visual material: Introducing surveillance
Learning from audio-visual material: Introducing surveillance

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Learning from audio-visual material: Introducing surveillance

4 The video resources

4.1 Learning from video clips

This video clip is a short feature that provides you with guidance on how to learn from video materials.

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Transcript: Video clip learning from a DVD

Voiceover commentary
The purpose of this video sequence is to give you advice on how to learn from the DVD material. We suggest that you watch each chapter of the DVD through once without stopping, then watch it again paying attention to three different aspects.
Voiceover commentary
First, in each chapter there’s a commentary voice.
Allan Cochrane
One community-focused scheme involves the early opening of the centre to allow older people to walk the internal malls.
We do it for health reasons, you know.
Voiceover commentary
Second, a range of different people express ideas or opinions or describe their personal experiences. And, third, the discussion is framed and illustrated by a range of different visual images. Music starts Each of these provides a valuable insight into the course material and may be used as evidence in your assignments. Here are some examples from ‘Introducing Surveillance’ to illustrate how you can learn from these three different aspects.
Voiceover commentary
As you watch the following sequence, think carefully about the commentary and make a note about what seem to be the most important points.
Voiceover: Allan Cochrane
In this introductory film we’ll be looking at examples of surveillance in one very everyday location – a shopping centre on the edge of Leeds. I’m Allan Cochrane. I’ve come here as a member of the Open University course team to look at how surveillance is understood by those who do the watching, as well as those who are being watched. And I’ll also be reflecting on some of the tensions between being watched out for and protected, and being watched over, so that others may be protected.
Voiceover commentary
The commentary has three tasks – to give you background information, to link different parts of the chapter together, and to highlight the issues and ideas considered important by the course team.
If you’ve already watched the whole of this first chapter, you’ll know that the commentary is spoken by Allan Cochrane, a member of the course team, who appears in the film. In this first extract he introduces the chapter as well as directing you to some of the central ideas that are being explored. In later films the commentary is not spoken by a member of the course team and the course will not be specifically mentioned. Nevertheless in all cases you could think of the commentary voice as the ‘voice of the course team’, helping you to make sense of the course themes, and directing you to the issues that you can learn from the DVD. See whether you can recognise the three aspects of the commentary in this next sequence.
Voiceover commentary: Allan Cochrane
In one sense the experience of surveillance is a universal one – everybody in a shopping centre comes under the view of the cameras. Marketing strategies are developed with the help of widely available personal data. Medical information is held by doctors; tax and benefit data is held by government departments. But people are affected differently depending on how they are perceived through the surveillance process.
Voiceover commentary
When listening to people talking, it’s important to be clear about what they’re saying. At the same time it’s important to think about who they are. They speak in different kinds of ways and have different concerns. Extract: ‘…really depend upon how this information is used, where it’s stored …’ Voiceover commentary Some people may also be seen as having particular authority. Extracts: ‘…must be a good use of public money, deflect people from lives of crime …’ ‘… we do have a, what’s known to us as our “Who’s in the zoo book” … ‘… some people do get targeted because of how they dress or how they look. And I think that might be wrong …’
Voiceover commentary
In all the chapters on this DVD we can distinguish between the voices of four different categories of people: academic experts who’ve researched this area; policy-makers; professionals; and people who are affected by the policies discussed in the course. In the following two short sequences, different views are being expressed about surveillance. Make notes on what each person says, and think about why it’s important to think also about who they are. Can you identify any tensions or ambivalences within each contribution?
Allan Cochrane
How do you think the ways in which people sort of watch over and watch out for people has changed?
I know before when I was younger, when I used to go shopping with my parents, it was never an issue if I wasn’t holding their hands or if I wasn’t strapped into my pushchair, cos it was almost like there was always a community spirit and there was always somebody else looking out for you as well. But now I think you really really have to look after your own child and having the surveillance there is almost just like a back-up mechanism, and it just gives you that extra safety-net. And I think because of the media and just generally the way things have happened … in the public, has made surveillance change a great deal. I think it’s for the betterment really.
John Banford
Click of a mouse here; use of a mobile phone there; visiting an ATM machine; using a credit card; use of a supermarket loyalty card. Every time we do one of those things that enables electronic footprints to be generated about us. Well maybe every one of those when it’s on a discrete basis is acceptable, because it’s to do with providing us with a service, things that we expect. But it does provide the opportunity for all that information to be joined together and brought together in, in a way which might be used in an unwarranted way which affects individuals.
Voiceover commentary
So, we need to always think about not only what is said but who is saying it. These ideas about different kinds of evidence, and whose evidence is seen to count more, will be discussed further when you get to Book 1.
As well as being organised around the commentary and different people speaking, the DVD is made up of different visual material. There are some general background scene images which don’t say anything directly about the themes of the film. There are montage images that do more obviously relate to the topic. There are images which are used to make specific and substantive points about surveillance, welfare and crime control. So, sometimes images show particular situations, events and interviewees.
Well, I think everywhere … they say that Big Brother’s watching you, don’t they? …
Voiceover commentary
And sometimes they provide background shots that illustrate what’s being spoken about.
Peter Cook
Where we are in south Leeds, we’re actually situated in quite a deprived area of Leeds.
Voiceover commentary
Watch the following sequence and think about what you can learn from the visual images themselves over and above the words being said.
John White
Yeah, you’ve just got an IC1 male coming through the centre south-east entrance, wearing a white and grey top, blue jeans, white trainers and a baseball cap. Can you approach that man? He’s gone into Argos.
Security guard
Stand him down, John.
John White
Stand down, there. You just wait there outside. … I’ve got whisky 3 4 outside. He’s actually banned from site.
Walkie talkie
Whisky, alpha, delta. So is he still banned for life or not?
John White
Security guard
Affirmative, we believe he is, yeah.
Kirstie Ball
The implications of a drift towards a surveillance society really depend upon how this information is used, where it’s stored, who gets access to it, what decision are taken with that information and how people’s life courses are steered.
Allan Cochrane
One way in which surveillance and information-gathering can be used, is to identify those who are seen as undesirable and to exclude them from a community.
In this sequence you saw the three different aspects of the DVD coming together – the commentary voice, an academic voice and a story or situation.
Visual images can have a particular impact on audiences as they are able to bring issues and ideas and stories to life in very immediate and direct ways. For example, in the extract we heard the commentary voice, we saw the academic interviewee which personalised her and we watched the story or drama of the excluded man in the shopping centre. Which element stayed in your mind the longest? It may well have been this last one. Being able to watch this actual event allows the viewer to understand, recognise and quickly make sense of the more general abstract points made by the commentary and the academic voice. Visual images are able to effectively communicate multiple types of information to audiences. An important part of learning from the DVD is to monitor your own response to the content. Some of the visual material may elicit a reaction in you because you strongly agree or disagree with what’s being said or because you find some of the images reassuring or disturbing. You may also experience comfort or discomfort if the issues touch on aspects of your own experience or that of people close to you. Being aware of your own emotional response to the content of the DVD is part of reflective learning.
We have suggested that you can learn from the commentary voice, from different people’s voices, from the visual images and from being a reflective learner.
Further advice on organising your notes in sterms of the themes of the course can be found in the Introductory Course Companion.
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