Above: A sign prohibiting photography at the Odeon cinema, Covent Garden, London. Credit: Oscopic.


One way of considering a basic bifurcation (division into two separate branches) of the social space is to distinguish between public spaces in which photography is allowed, and spaces in which photography is prohibited. We can then interrogate the authority that is announcing the injunction, and we can interrogate the reasons given for the ban. This is a very useful, and probably essential critical process for photographers today: who says when you can and can't photograph, and why are they saying it? It's an elementary Foucauldian critique of control systems; it's elementary but it is well-worth engaging with. These impositions on the social/public space (laws, rules, and conventions) are often operational but completely invisible. The city user moves seamlessly through myriad controlled domains each day and it is not always self-evident if photography is allowed in any given piece of geo-physical space, so hence the signs that we often encounter--like the one illustrated above.

(11 February 2019)