Sniffin' video might sound like a punk fanzine for a generation raised on YouTube, and in a way that is exactly what it is. Like Mark Perry's legendary Sniffin' Glue, the project creates radical culture using materials that are extremely cheap and abundantly available.
Graham Harwood of Mongrel gave a demonstration about video 'sniffing' a project he helped instigate while working in Southend-on-Sea in Essex. Harwood recruited a group of local youth with the initial idea of creating some kind of Free Media. What they ended up with a film made by utilising the very CCTV cameras that had been installed to spy on them. The kids found the 24 hotspots in the town and mapped them out. They then 'sniffed' the video by using an off-the-shelf electronic device from Maplins that bought for less than £30. This enabled them to record the footage from the cameras. The group were able to make a film using on no other cameras apart from the CCTV.
Harwood said that, in Southend at least, that "there is a confusion" about the meaning of free media. Richard Stallman's famous maxim. free as in free speech, not as in free beer was mostly irrelevant, he explained, "as people have no money, both are seen as equally important," what people do instead is "replace money with imagination” Incredibly, the group went to the local Tory council and explained what they were doing. Rather than call the police the Tories were actually supportive and saw sniffing video as "a good way to get young people involved in democracy."
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