Sunday, 25 November 2012

Voyeurism (and) or Human Interest

Webcams have been used, in conjunction with specially designed sites, to broadcast people’s lives, and in some extreme examples have been used to broadcast people’s entire lives.

Jennifer Ringley placed cameras in her residence and set up a 24 hour live webcast of her life (at first some parts were censored, but soon it became 24 hours). This lasted from 1996-2003. This created a controversy at the time, being one of the first 24 hr invasions of privacy, and because the camera was left on even during intimate encounters or events.

Did people really gain an insight or understanding into the details of an ordinary person’s life by watching her webcam, was it art? Or did people use it as a puerile, voyeuristic peepshow? And where is the boundary between the two?

A camera is in development, that can record someone’s entire life of memories by taking millions of photos at intervals, or when it detects the presence of a person entering the user’s periphery. Is this perhaps more artistic than a webcam, considering it is taking pictures from a person’s viewpoint, and because it can be very useful in preserving memories for people with Alzheimer’s, or people who lose parts of their memory in an accident?
The dark side of the webcam presence is the millions of pay-per-view sites selling trashy content.
In contemporary times, very few people want photos or images of themselves being broadcast periodically. People do post multiple Twitter and Facebook postings detailing mundane moments of their life, and upload pictures of everything from their cat to their lunch.

The difference is posting is manual, not automatic, meaning there is some forethought about posts (although it may not feel like it at times when you read people’s posts). Facebook and Twitter is probably, in my opinion, being used mostly as a way to project someone’s desired image or personality to an audience, not to reveal someone’s true nature.

But, is that too fine a distinction? If ordinary people have access to a  low-barrier-of-entry, accessible social media platform, doesn’t that automatically mean they are empowered to post their real thoughts? Maybe a large part of life is the mundane.

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