Day 69: Celebrating George Orwell’s 110th birthday (dob 25 June 1903)


Here’s a good example of leading with the arts, changing consciousness and inviting people to look up and notice the constant surveillance that we’re ignoring. They’ve done a lot of surveillance art, and while I love these celebratory birthday cameras for Orwell, my favorite are the “panopticon” bird cameras, crows with camera heads that follow your motions. Look up, they say, and remember, Big Brother may be watching “for your protection.”

I enjoy these reminders that artists can say, with a visual surprise, what a lecture or a formal protest cannot. Although other forms of activism and social change leadership are important, artists like Front 404 surprise us into seeing, when we might not self-select to be in an audience or tune out as we rush past a protest. The humor and simplicity of this kind of artistic leadership (see laughtevism about its power to change election results!) is visionary leadership at its creative best.

See videos of their festive exploding “flower mines” and these birds in action at Front 404’s website,

And thank you, 100days blogger, for bringing so many varied ways civil disobedience is a creative force for different kinds of leadership!



Dutch Artists Celebrate George Orwell’s Birthday By Putting Party Hats On Surveillance Cameras

Dutch artist duo Front404 decorated security cameras with party hats in one of the Netherland’s largest cities to celebrate George Orwell’s 110th birthday.

“George Orwell is best known for his book ‘1984’, in which he describes a dystopian future society where the populace is constantly watched by the surveillance state of Big Brother.”

“By putting these happy party hats on the surveillance cameras we don’t just celebrate Orwell’s birthday.”

“By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays.”

“And [how] the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality.”

Front404 is the collaborative work of artists Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle. You can see the rest of these images on the…

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One comment

  1. […] once considered controversial, but whose works are now known as classic (Thoreau, Samuel Clemens, George Orwell.) It’s not so much about the message (although obviously I choose artist leaders I resonate […]


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