1984: is nigh

February 25, 2010

On the way home from Paper Zoo’s 1984, I listened in on the audience chatting. Many were saying how our society is starting to resemble the book, CCTV surveillance being the top example given.

The play’s director recalled reading the book soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and John Hurt read the book in 1958 a year after the Soviet invasion of Hungary – it seemed relevant to them.

The discussion around a 1949 radio adaptation saw parallels with the Nazi period and the start of the cold war.

I remember re-reading it in the mid-1980s when many people seemed genuinely surprised that 1984 hadn’t turned out quite like Nineteen Eighty-Four. One of the things that makes the book so powerful is how it has seemed prescient to people over the last 60 years.

And so to today’s picture, which  seems very old – very 1949, but is in fact current(ish). It’s a real Transport for London poster telling people about CCTV on London’s buses. Now I’m not the only person who thought this was a bit of spoof adbusting. It all looks very sinister and it’s message anything but reassuring. However a visit to the  London Transport Museum confirmed it’s authenticity.
I suppose the designer could have been an undercover opponent of surveillance and it was a cunning double bluff, or maybe he’s not read 1984?

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