public view

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All of the paintings in the series public view are derived from webcam images of public spaces, published as a live stream on the internet.



As images that are used as evidence, the CCTV image is read as proof, a trusted picture of what was real at a specific time. I hope to question where the reality lies within the realism of the images. Imitating the look of the CCTV image with paint on canvas divorces the style from the presence as witness of the original medium and asks whether it is possible to contemplate one without the other. I hope to use the canvas as a stage on which to act out normality.


CCTV camera images are a part of modern life, both shaping our experience of public space and contributing a style of depiction to the portrayal of these places. The way that reality is visually presented to us may change our idea of what reality looks like and beyond that our perception of reality itself. It is unclear as to where the line is crossed between observation and control. The increased monitoring of people and places is a contemporary aspect of our psychogeography. The CCTV camera image could be considered an archetype for modern electronic surveillance and the broader idea of a ‘surveillance society’.


“Hannah Downing is fascinated by experience as mediated through a cipher of reality. As source material she uses the ubiquitous CCTV image as a signifier of the modern borderland, a place where surveillance is not implied so much as omnipresent in our contemporary panopticon.” 

Tim Davies, Ground:, 2009.