Seeing and Being Seen Open Access

Baker, Ruthie (Spring 2022)

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Atlanta, Georgia is the surveillance capital of the United States. For every 1,000 people there are 50 CCTV cameras, making Atlanta the most closely watched American city. The regime of surveillance is as much a part of “private,” residential reality as it is present in the public eye. Under the guise of imagined security, Americans have become complacent in the inescapable presence of surveillance. By adopting participatory surveillance measures, subjecting our neighbors and fellow citizens to being perpetually watched, the American public has internalized the surveillant gaze and participated in our own violation of privacy.


We have normalized and contributed to the paranoia of average people. Surveillance involves a core dichotomy: it creates a sense of responsibility always to monitor the behavior of those around us yet distracts from the awareness of being watched. As a result, boundaries between private and public spheres have become uncertain, encouraging us to surveil our friends and neighbors and forcing us into the simultaneous position of watchers and watched.


By installing a security camera on your front door, you may feel safe and protected. However, if everyone did the same, we would all be subject to a decentralized and uncontrolled surveillance network designed to quell public fears of “suspicious” (often innocent) people. When we accept that everyone is potentially a criminal, we are invited to surveil ourselves and others for the sake of public good. I use “we” deliberately. I am not exempt from this pressure always to see and be seen; on the contrary, this photographic series is at once an exercise in watching and being watched by others.


In this photo-and-text work, I ask you to look again at the paradoxically unobtrusive/intrusive surveillance devices that are hidden in plain sight. Even where privacy should be reasonably expected, in domestic spaces and on college campuses, the unseen eye of surveillance is there to be seen if you’re looking for it.

Table of Contents

This work can be read in several ways and the pages are intentionally left unnumbered. I invite you to start at the beginning, jump into the middle, or work your way back from the end.

Photographs begin on the first page.

Writing begins 38 pages in. 

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