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Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 09:51:05 -0800 (PST)
From: Sheila Colleen Murphy  <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
cc: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]
Subject: webcams
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hi,
a friend sent me your message from screen-l b/c i'm currently revising a
paper for publication that attempts to theorize webcams.  while there are
some similarities with cinema, i think that there are also crucial
differences (screen size, the physical location and position of the
spectatorship, the networked nature of the webcam).  while i can't rehash
my whole argument here, i think that the contemporary culture of
surveillance is one in which Foucault's theorization of the panopticon
functions differently than the way in which he describes.  With webcams
there is no centralized power, rather there is a community of looking and
of lookers (which i call lurkers, borrowing from the Usenet
terminology of users who read groups but do not post to groups.  Lurking
is often recommended to new users as a way to learn the codes and tone of
the group before participating). Anyway, webcam sites (which are often
part of web-rings, linking together many possible views) produce a chain
of sights/sites (bad pun) and a chain of looking and lurking that does not
easily fit into a cinematic or televisual model.
at any rate, there is certainly an increasing contemporary fascination
with surveillance technologies that diegetically and formally enters into
cinema (see the recent film Enemy of the State, which uses satellite
surveillance and low-quality video images to connote surveillance.)
Tonight on U.S. television (UPN), a show is premiering called "RedHanded"
about illicit acts (the 7 deadly sins) "caught on tape".  i agree that
such cinematic and TV themes are important to trace and that they reveal
some of our contemporary anxieties about technology and visuality.
best,
sheila
(please feel free to forward this to the list if you think others would be
interested)
--
she-mails, she-morphs @
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