Suspect

On October 4th, 2001, I was reported to the FBI as a Middle-Eastern man taking pictures of bridges in Albany, New York. Suspect (2002) juxtaposes the source footage I was shooting when reported, framed by FBI warnings and a pseudo-official “FBI TV” logo, with legislation that describes this type of footage as illegal to possess or distribute.

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Related Projects:

Wanted

If an art student with a camera is cause enough to be reported to the FBI, what’s next? This photo illustration mocks the harmless nature of my "crime" by taking it to its logical extreme. An FBI wanted poster. Wanted (2002) also questions the line between art and forgery as a federal crime.

0v3r104d

0v3r104d (2002) reconstructs the saturation of red, white and blue in the cultural and media landscape of the US after September 11, 2001. The buzzy, machine-like barrage of sound and strobe light style makes the flag appear as a flickering neon advertisement nearing burnout. As the image undergoes generation loss, the original soon becomes unrecognizable.

National Anthem

Immediatedly following September 11, 2001, U.S. flags branded the landscape. For some, it was a symbol of solidarity, but for others, it was an obligation. National Anthem (2001) is an attempt to survey the plethora of flags, comment on its use and reveal a deeper social pain.


11 Comments »

  Gravatar Chris wrote @ June 28th, 2005 at 8:07 pm

So cuz,

How exactly can you still “possess” this material and not be in violation of the law as stated in your project?

  Gravatar Nathan Gibbs wrote @ June 29th, 2005 at 12:28 am

The legislation is from Vermont Statute Title 13, Section 3481, which states that a

person who, without permission of lawful authority, while the United States is at war or threatened with war, makes or attempts to make any map, drawing, plan, model, description, or picture of any military camp, fort, armory, arsenal, bridge, road, canal, dockyard, telephone or telegraph line or equipment, railway or property of any corporation subject to the supervision of the public service board, or of any municipality or part thereof, shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years.

Here’s an article about a photographer who was detained by police for that very reason.

I use the language of that law, describing the video as “illegal to possess or distribute” to draw on the looming, ominous fear that even a small step out of line will land you (or me) in jail. If the footage were truly “illegal,” it wouldn’t still be online ;) If the FBI logo was copyrighted like a commercial brand (I’m not sure if it is), my new FBI-TV logo would be covered by fair use as criticism. But your point is well noted. I’ve rephrased my description. Hopefully it retains the sense of danger associated with wide, sweeping phrases that the government uses to make even innocent photos “illegal.”

  Gravatar Chris Scott wrote @ June 29th, 2005 at 2:04 pm

Ah, ok, that makes more sense.

  Gravatar Jason wrote @ January 20th, 2006 at 7:19 am

I still remember the whole “photographing the bridge” debacle! Looks like you got off easy. Very ominous, good job.

  Gravatar Jon wrote @ March 9th, 2006 at 9:29 am

I photographed a Koch plant in Minnesota and was approached by two men in National Security outfits in 2003. I was told that they would need to obtain my film, and all of my personal information, such as DL, SS#, and current address. I was told that I would now have a permanent file at the FBI.
I really appreciate this video.

cheers

  Gravatar Cynthia wrote @ December 17th, 2007 at 11:26 am

And here we thought permanent records were only a threat in high school…

  Gravatar Dave wrote @ February 26th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

telegraph line… lol.. great stuff.

  Gravatar Steven Bartholow wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 8:21 am

Surely got off easy! I was hassled multiple times for filming the trolley station at Grantville for a college journalism piece. No FBI though! what a load of crap

  Gravatar Suspect » nathangibbs.com | Getgln's Blog wrote @ May 28th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

[…] logo, with legislation that describes this type of footage as illegal to possess or distribute.Show original This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Self-Portrait […]

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  Gravatar Suspect » nathangibbs.com – Mixed American Life wrote @ January 23rd, 2017 at 10:17 pm

[…] Via Scoop.it – Artful Muse On October 4th, 2001, I was reported to the FBI as a Middle-Eastern man taking pictures of bridges in Albany, New York. Suspect (2002) juxtaposes the source footage I was shooting when reported, framed by FBI warnings and a pseudo-official “FBI TV” logo, with legislation that describes this type of footage as illegal to possess or distribute. Show original […]

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