The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Statement from the Creators of the “surveillance posters”

The Quest has been in contact with those responsible for the recent “surveillance posters” that have attracted recent attention. They have made the following statement for publication.

“The posters were designed by myself and my associate. We drew from the imagery of barbed wire, prisons, and surveillance and paired these photographs with slogans communicating the need for security, protection, and barriers in our dear community.

We believe that Reed College is a very special place. Unfortunately, the outside world is an often hostile environment. We fear that this hostility may be quickly spilling into our community. This necessitates the establishment of borders, both physical and abstract, in order to protect our integrity and honor.

These posters are part of a public relations campaign meant to foster awareness of the numerous threats which are faced by our community. Through the regulation of persons entering our campus, we can protect against the many evils that lurk just beyond The Bubble. This tactic is proven to be effective in eliminating issues concerning terrorism, narcotics smuggling, and other campus safety matters; alien admissibility; contraband including child pornography, monetary instruments, and information in violation of copyright or trademark laws; and evidence of embargo violations or other import or export control laws. It is our hope that people will derive a strong sense of safety and community from these posters, but also an understanding of the urgency which surrounds these matters.

Essentially, this is a precursor to the forthcoming Border Division of Safety Management (BDSM). The primary mission of BDSM is to protect our Campus by reducing the likelihood that dangerous people and capabilities enter the Reed College between ports of entry. This is accomplished by maintaining surveillance, following up on leads, responding to electronic sensor alarms and vehicle sightings, and interpreting and following tracks. Some of the major activities include maintaining checkpoints along pathways leading from border areas.

Often, the border is a barely discernible line in the uninhabited Canyon, lawns, and parking lots that comprise the campus. BDSM utilizes a variety of equipment and methods to accomplish its mission in such diverse terrain and to make these borders more apparent.”

20 Responses to “Statement from the Creators of the “surveillance posters””
  1. a reedie says:

    what in the fucking fuck

  2. anon says:

    This explanation just makes the whole thing doubly creepy. Bleh.

  3. anonamoose says:

    I liked “interpreting and following tracks.” Also the whole paragraph implying that we have issues with copyright and embargo violations. At first I thought that was copied from wikipedia or something, but no–someone actually sat down, wrote that, and thought that it was a reasonable explanation for why we need to ‘defend the borders.’

    It’s so close to a joke (BDSM and ‘securing’ campus–haha), but just sincere enough to be really unsettling.

  4. anonymous says:

    Please tell me this is a joke. And if it is, it really isn’t funny.

  5. Brent says:

    As best as I can tell this is a weak-ass attempt at a joke by spoiled alarmist Reedies. Also, using a picture from Auschwitz- not fucking okay. Dicks.

    • Diz says:

      Why is it “not fucking okay” to use pictures of Auschwitz in this context? I’d agree that it is in poor taste but I certainly don’t think that the creators intended to or succeeded in downplaying the seriousness of events surrounding the camp.

      You are putting photographs of Auschwitz off-limits for expressive use. What else would you like to put off-limits for such uses? What uses of such photographs are still allowed under your rules?

  6. anonomouse says:

    wannabe-abbie hoffmans, don’t realize that abbie hoffman was a douche who didn’t accomplish anything

  7. Sam says:

    FYI, it turns out it’s an art project. For the Social Practice art class.

    • Anon says:

      If the goal of your “social practice” was to make me feel completely alienated, thanks, you’ve succeeded.

      • Kieran Hanrahan says:

        In defense of the project, while it may have upset people (the use of photos from Auschwitz was taking it too far) it succeeded in subverting and parodying much of the AOD discussion. Alienation may have been the goal. I think we as Reedies should be as accepting of those nonviolently subverting our own culture as we are of those nonviolently subverting the mainstream. We are skeptics, not separatists, or so I hope.

        • anon says:

          Also: By alienation, I mean that I felt utterly aware of how classist this environment is, and like I was not a part of it. I sincerely hope that that was not the goal. But, again, figuring that out would require figuring out what exactly these people are trying to communicate.

      • anon says:

        How exactly did it subvert or parody the AOD discussion? What intelligent points do you take from this? I’m sincerely curious.

        • Kieran Hanrahan says:

          If we allow ourselves to be upset by flyers, perhaps we take ourselves too seriously. Maybe we need thorns in our paws once in a while.

          It’s also an interesting attack on discourse. Even discussion itself needs to be challenged to stay healthy.

          • anon says:

            But what kind of thorn was this? You’re not actually telling me anything about what this was intended to subvert or parody. There doesn’t seem to be any real message. If it’s meant to make a commentary about Reed’s reactionariness (or Reed’s authoritarianism, I honestly *cannot tell* which side the artist is intending to come down on), it’s not communicating that effectively. What I saw when I first encountered the posters was a new manifestation of the same childish flyers that go up *every time* something controversial happens. I didn’t think “wow, this parody sure makes me consider an issue (what issue?!?) in more depth!” I thought, “wow, way to hit a new low, reedies.” The only intelligent commentary this “art” has evoked, in my opinion, is that most people I know assumed it was real. That speaks volumes, but I’m not sure it says what the artist was intending.

            Given, I’m a thesising senior, maybe I’m just too tired to have picked up on the nuanced and valuable arguments this art project is presenting. If that’s the case, please, *please* let me know. I just am not understanding how this challenges the discussion in any meaningful way, other than being “subversive” for subversiveness’ sake (and hardly that, considering these kinds of posters go up at least once a semester).

            • Kieran Hanrahan says:

              I think (I can’t speak on behalf of the creators) it was intended to satirize Reedie reactionism, Reed’s authoritarianism, Reedies’ response to Reed’s authoritarianism, and Reedies’ response to Reedies’ response to Reed’s authoritarianism. (Though I don’t necessarily personally believe that Reed is authoritarian.) I think, however, that knowing that the posters are an art project, and not real, is essential to understanding the posters’ subversiveness because they are not ironic or self-aware enough themselves to clue the viewer in to their subversion. However, that people thought the posters were real also, as you said, “speaks volumes.”

              On an entirely separate note: Why comment anonymously in this context? I would feel much more respected, and less frustrated, if I wasn’t having a conversation with an anonymous commenter. I believe there are situations where anonymity is warranted, e.g. discussion about Sexual Assault or other sensitive issues, but is this one of those situations?

              • Jay Dickson says:

                @Kieran Hanrahan: And yet you’re defending the anonymous creators of the posters, who have refused to come forward and identify themselves to the larger Reed community.

                I object far less to the posters themselves than to the fact that the students who made them retain their public anonymity and have not taken actual public responsibility for their actions.

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