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Jennifer Ringley – JenniCam

“American college student Jennifer Ringley has taken the cam phenomenon to one of its logical conclusions, installing a camera in her dorm room and linking it to the web. The ‘Jennicam’ updates every three minutes, and is never switched off. Whatever Jenny does, she does in front of a crowd. Her site, which is now hosted on a commercial server, is sophisticated and includes features such as a gallery of past Jennicam grabs, an FAQ, and a ‘spot the curve’ competition in which viewers are shown a scan of a small piece of skin and invited to guess what part of Jenni’s body it comes from. The phenomenon of a young woman quite literally anatomising herself via the web is an extraordinary one, and Jenni’s site has made her one of the web’s first real stars. In June she started charging, an arrangement which further problematises her status.

Occasionally Jenni will perform for her camera, and a market has developed for explicit grabs of her choreographed strip shows. Her site is linked to numerous commercial pornographic sites, which present her as an ‘amateur’ porn star, in the vein of reader’s wives pictures or images in contact magazines. But though Jenni occasionally uses it for sexual purposes, for the most part the cam shows an ordinary young woman’s life in all its drabness. Jenni talks on the phone, washes her hair, goes to sleep for eight hours a night. All this makes her voluntary abdication of privacy (which does not seem to be motivated by any political, or artistic agenda, and only latterly by a financial one) all the more interesting.”

it’s pretty amazing to me that someone can allow others to invade their privacy to this extent. For a person like me who gets paranoid for even having webcam on the table without switching on, I am unable to comprehend her actions. What is the true meaning behind invading privacy? Does it still counts as invading when one actually allow the “invasion”. Is just like the settings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the others social network,, where you allow or disabled or block someone assess to a certain information of yours. .. People feel okay as long as people only get to see what was allowed. So is this even invading privacy? Moreover her, who allows other people to see the most intimate part of her life.

She claim what was shown in the camera was real. But i doubt so. Even when you tried to behave normally, subconsciously knowing the camera is there, knowing somewhere on some parts of Earth there are people observing you, you tend to behave differently.  I can’t imagine the pressure she faced living under camera for 7 Years. Perhaps the initial thought was to experiment a “reality” show where such concept is rare at that era. Or it could be merely be her trying to gain recognition, like what some youtubers did nowadays. But we never know.

I do wonder does she really feels comfortable with it? and what forces her to close her site down in the end?

She even received threatening letters, hackers hacking into her site asking her to show more. In a way i feel that her performance is a real success in reflecting the society, regarding what is deem as pornographic, and how people can actually behave behind the screen.

5 thoughts on “Jennifer Ringley – JenniCam

  1. Profile photo of Randall PackerRandall Packer

    You asked many interesting questions, but I think you may have answered the motivation behind the project in your final comment, which is that her performance was a way to draw a portrait of how society views someone baring their life in front of the camera. It is a reflection on society. Perhaps you could say it reveals less about Jenni, and more about the people who are watching. That seems to me to be a valid objective in any artwork.

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  2. Profile photo of Ashley LaiAshley Lai

    I also wrote about JenniCam, but I chose to focus on her biography and 7 year timeline history of her project while you revealed more on the Jenni Show and more the implications it has on society – so I learned a lot! I also agree with what Randall said – you raised many good questions. I didn’t even question that what she was presenting on her camera could be anything but real, because I figured that you can’t hide who you are in your very own room for 7 years. Sooner or later, the real you comes out. However, psychologically, I don’t think that I could ever truly act as myself when I subconsciously know that a camera is right in front of me presented to thousands of viewers. Even if she has control over everything she says or does, I think that knowing that she has an audience would make me feel that I would need to do something to keep my audience entertained …and perhaps that is why she started to perform strip teases or why she chose to keep her lights on at night when she sleeps.

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  3. Profile photo of Yeo Jing XiangYeo Jing Xiang

    I wonder about that too, but at the same time, is it possible that she didn’t care at all what how other people will judge her. The fact that her agendas were left unclear is indeed intriguing and it seems like she have truly given up her data, leaving the audience to do whatever they want with details of her life.
    The artist giving up her data is one matter, yet what the viewers have responded to it and used the footages is another. What makes her data any special when it is just but daily life? Is it a form of escapism or is there any expectation from the viewers as they look at the data that reflect merely normal daily life?

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  4. Profile photo of Prakash HaridasPrakash Haridas

    Reading about JenniCam, I’m wondering if this was perhaps the catalyst towards the growing popularity of livestreaming (i.e. recording and broadcasting one’s self and actions continuously to an audience). Popular sites like justin.tv and Ustream often have many users streaming themselves live to mainly strangers where they interact and engage with one another. For the most part, the majority of these “amateur” livestreamers usually exhibit signs of boredom and frustration quite easily when either they don’t get any immediate response from the audience watching them or they get put off by bad comments left behind by miscreants/trolls. At the same time, there are also those who just stream whatever they please online and leave them on for as long as they can. Even something so simple as streaming a live broadcast of an eagle’s nest brings in large crowds and increasing viewership counts by the minute (You can watch that livestream here if you’re interested! It has 77,000+ followers!! http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles) It’s as though in the age of instant media relays and broadcasting, where the tools are readily available to one and all, almost anyone (or anything) can become an instant mini-celebrity. All you need is an audience who watches what you do.

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    1. Profile photo of Diana TohDiana Toh

      I like the idea of “amateur” live streamers, which is almost a colloquial in the NSFW world where typically a camgirl or stud masturbate and/or do a striptease, else couples (if not more than two) perform sexually explicit acts without prior industrial training in adult film. Typically they can be done like home videos but in the matter of live stream, there is some finesse in sexually engaged individuals be caution about the camera angle, as such to play out in the most favored point of view for the audience. Unforeseen circumstances like parents barging in, or additional people joining in the act are hilarious. Sometimes the interactive third space sex is also well discussed, as such, Skype sex, and the how-tos.

      On another note, this has got me thinking about the elusiveness of privacy — how aware are to our surroundings as much as we would like to be in control of who, what and how are we to be seen as. Wherever that privacy is truly concerned, I could only suppose that what’s in our mind are best kept secrets.

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