In conclusion I have decided to adopt the “National Geographic” voice-over, documentary style of ending - namely: moving from tales of empowerment and the triumph and resistance of the human spirit to the inevitable warning of the human capacity to continually destroy everything by ignoring all the billboard size warning signs:
Recently I had to move house and the van that I hired to move my possessions had a camera mounted on the dashboard. This camera recorded the entire rear view of the road behind as I drove along, in the light of my current research this was a strange and disconcerting moment of synchronicity. In grainy black and white I saw the view behind me streaming along at a rapid pace and I experienced in a flash Buadrillard’s proposition, that the whole world will be surveyed, that everything will be transformed into information - The final solution:
MR BAUDRILLARD: “One day, perhaps, all that substance will be transformed into energy and all that energy into pure information. This will be, in a way, the definitive ‘acting-out’, the total achievement, the final solution. Everything will be accomplished, realized and, at the same time, ejected into the void. Delivered from ourselves, we shall enter the spectral, problem-free universe. This is what is meant by the great model of Virtuality.” (Baudrillard, 1996)
MS TANAKA: “Webcams are sure to be a feature of tomorrow’s technology landscape. People are increasingly discovering practical uses for them, such as monitoring a beach house during winter months or peeking in on kids through Webcammed day-care centers. In the future Webcams might allow you to check out the scene inside a nightclub before you stand in line. These sorts of applications may well prove indispensable - and, in the process, make Webcam addicts of us all.” (Tanaka, 1999)
MR VIRILIO: “There is a great science-fiction short story in which a camera has been invented which can be carried by flakes of snow. Cameras are inseminated into artificial snow which is dropped by planes, and when the snow falls, there are eyes everywhere. There is no blind spot left.” (Wilson,1999)
It is ironic that what I (and others) have posited as a form of resistance, by its very presence in a new and powerful medium, to the traditional paradigm of broadcast media, could be one of the clear warning signals of the future of telepresence.
At present the ‘Camgirls’ are controlling the capture of their own image - it is they who purchase and set up their digital cameras within the various rooms that they inhabit and it is their own individual voices inscribed within the medium that we connect with. Yet one could project a future scenario where we have colluded with the powers that be to install this technology in our various spaces with a faith in the freedoms of decentralized surveillance - monitoring the beach house, checking the tables at a restaurant etc. And the day does not seem to far away where our willingness to embrace this technology could be co-opted and centralized.
The 24 hour lives of these ‘Camgirls’ translated into electronic images through the choice of self-surveillance could be the lives that we all may not so willingly be living, rising slowly up from the depths to meet us like a terrible fish.
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