THE PLAGUE

2011, Oil on Linen, 100 x 200cm

If ever the Tibetans were to rise up against the People’s Liberation Army, the Barkhor Square is where it would happen. Formerly a maze of medieval back streets leading to the country’s holiest temple, the Jokhang, the square was bulldozed by the Chinese - ostensibly for better pilgrim accessibility - but actually to provide tank access should an uprising occur. Dotted around the rooftops are ordinary looking security cameras.

Sitting in the square quietly photographing the weathered pilgrims arriving after traversing countless frozen kilometres, not five minutes had passed before a young Chinese official arrived, demanding to know why I was there and if I was a journalist (who are banned).

I was struck at this point that the portent of these cameras, considered in the West to be comparatively innocuous, depends entirely upon the paranoia and need for control of the person viewing the monitor feed.

That such cameras appear to spread across the world as though not by human action but in the manner of a virus, transforms their environments into the unfamiliar and potentially threatening.

The contrast between the Natural and the Synthetic draws comparisons to the opposing forces of Freedom and Oppression, and Good and Evil.