In 2002, artist and professor Hasan Elahi spent six months being interrogated off and on by the FBI as a suspected terrorist. In response to this experience, he created Tracking Transience, a website that makes his every move available to the FBI - and everybody else. Tracking Transience is a website where Hasan Elahi uses time-stamped digital photos to track his own whereabouts. Read more →
Mar 25, 2014 - 08:19:06 pm
Good point about how we are all like Hasan Elahi, sharing our data via social media. Interestingly, he started this project years before social media even existed, so clearly he was thinking ahead in terms of the impact that would come as individuals began giving up their data as a global phenomenon. Elahi forces us all to think about the ramifications of the public/private issue, so the project clearly transcended its original intent to subvert surveillance tactics.
Mar 25, 2014 - 08:31:55 pm
I agree, this piece was clearly ahead of its time; that which was satire had become reality.
Screenshot of the PostSecret website landing page PostSecret is a project created by Frank Warren. It has its beginning in 2005 and has since manifested across various forms including a website, books, films and museum exhibitions. "PostSecrets is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard." The main premise of the concept involves Read more →
Mar 25, 2014 - 03:14:49 pm
i like the fact that you question about people actually volunteered to tell their secrets. Not to mention that the took the extra effort to mail the postcard. It makes me wonder though, that maybe, deep down everyone wishes someone to know everything about them. Perhaps humans just want to seek understanding or acknowledgements? but yet we are afraid of the consequences and the responsibility tied down on us. Maybe it is also a way for them to let out everything in their mind? Writing it out on postcard feel more personal and it perhaps mark its importance even more.
Mar 25, 2014 - 08:18:37 pm
Yeah I do think that the "handmade" quality of many of these postcards sent in have a personal feel to them. While we will probably never find out how the sender looks like, we can almost imagine what sort of a person he/she might be from the choice and look of the text, visuals, handwriting etc. And I agree that we most certainly do seek that kind of understanding from each other. It's definitely very interesting to see how this need manifests into different forms and behaviours in our social lives
My name is Jennifer Ringley, and I am not an actor or dancer or entertainer. I am a computer geek… I don't sing or dance or do tricks (okay, sometimes I do) but not very well and solely for my own amusement, not yours). (www.Jennicam.org) From April 1996 to December 2003, the 'ordinary' life of a young Western woman was broadcasted on Read more →
Mar 24, 2014 - 04:28:51 pm
"This marks the borderline falling between self-objectification and empowerment." - indeed, I agree that this is a fine line to navigate. Personally I think its fair game to conclude either way.
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:22:06 pm
‘The media, by and large, adores making a big deal out of the nudity and sexual content on the site. I don’t strip. I don’t even sleep naked much. And since I started dating Geofry ten months ago, I haven’t had sex on camera a single time because Geofry is camera-shy.” This quote is really thought-invoking, censorship has somehow warped our perception of daily life. Of what should be proper and what should not be, but yet sex and nudity are all part of daily life. While some people treated it as a sort of pornography, but to the artist herself these are just part of a daily life, nothing to be made a big fuss about. The awkwardness doesn't arise because the voyeurs know that they are hidden, but by exposing them, a new degree of awkwardness will arise
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:22:53 pm
its like a virtual consumerism where Jenni seem to be giving what the audience would like. A voyeuristic introduction of her life and the mundaneness of all. AT first, it may intrigue them but after a while it seems like any other life you see around. Its more of a celebrity stunt to entice the audience interest.
"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, Read more →
Mar 19, 2014 - 08:47:56 pm
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.
Mar 22, 2014 - 05:39:24 pm
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.
Mar 22, 2014 - 11:02:58 pm
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?
Mar 23, 2014 - 12:17:55 am
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.
Mar 24, 2014 - 09:45:12 pm
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.
TIMELINE of the JenniCam (1996 to 2003) The Beginning Jennifer Ringley started the JenniCam on April 14, 1996 when she was 19 years old in her Junior year of college. She set up a webcam that could only take black and white pictures in her dorm room at Dickson College in Pennsylvania. The webpage would refresh to a new screenshot of herself every Read more →
Mar 19, 2014 - 03:49:14 pm
Your comment that JenniCam was the "presentation of a human life," is exactly right. This may seem like a very simple proposition for an artwork, but as you also point out, it was the simplicity and directness of JenniCam that constituted its importance. The fact that it was never even presented as an artwork probably created a more interesting aura around the work. Of course, being the first to present one's life on the Internet added to the significance of JenniCam. It is interesting how the performance artist Marina Abramovic has coined the term "long duration" performance, but this work by Jennifer Ringley stretches this idea considerably.
Mar 23, 2014 - 11:18:27 am
Your conclusion about how "Ringley knew her purpose for her actions, but do we?" really made me think about the way we criticise others when we do not even know their intentions, particularly so for JenniCam since her purpose was never explicitly discussed. Somehow, we do have a tendency to like watching the lives of other people rather than living out our own, considering the number of reality TV shows that have popped up since JenniCam. Perhaps it is to feel less alone, or seek the comfort of knowing that such a popular person also does 'normal' things, but how do we know for sure that JenniCam is 'real life' not staged? Then again, as you've mentioned, maybe it is the essence of theatre that we are looking out for.
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:20:50 pm
I love the idea that you said that you view it as a theatre!! Actually yes, i also view the whole thing as a performing art. Performing art usually questions about the context between private and public and most of the time, reveals social problems. Perhaps, Jenni didn't think like that in the first place, but yes! it has definitely translate into something that raise questions to people about sensitive things like pornography vs art.
Eva and Franco Mattes's Life sharing starts off with a notion of having others explore their personal computers. They drew a comparison between their personal computers and their minds, as the computer contains numerous data that reveals their life and career. Never unplug I personally feel that the project is interesting not only because people are interested in voyeurism, but beyond that Read more →
Mar 19, 2014 - 06:02:01 pm
I was particularly interested in your commentary on the narrative of exposing one's everyday life, how this is different from edited forms of narrative. That is what is truly unique about Life Sharing, as well as JenniCam, the way in which these projects are about "reality," as least the way reality plays out in real time. This temporal distinction is a fascinating one for the artist to engage with in terms of how they are telling their "story." The storyline is not scripted, it is unedited, it is a "true" portrayal of life as it is lived. That seems to be where the narrative of television has shifted with increasingly popular forms of reality television.
Mar 23, 2014 - 10:42:26 am
I agree with you that our generation seems to be quite 'obsessed' with posting their lives on social media, as if it is a race to show who is 'living it up' the most, though I personally think it is quite an unhealthy trait. This is consistent with some articles that are circulating around commenting how social media is a person's highlight reel and not the behind-the-scenes part. I do like your comment on how "Even though the connection is not at all physical, the emotional and psychcological complexity of such an act can make people uneasy," because it is apparent in my case where I have always been apprehensive about revealing too much of who I am online. Regarding whether this work can be done in today's context, I think with the amount of data technology holds about us, possibly information that we don't even know it had, it is unwise and dangerous even to carry out this kind of experiment now, no matter how interesting it can be.
Mar 24, 2014 - 02:08:33 pm
I am particularly intrigued by the relationship between the exhibitionist and voyeur -- or is that not? The motivation behind their behavior perhaps innate and inevitable, but reigned in by social contract. As artists we are trained to be critically aware, especially so in OSS, the interaction and our avatar -- how we choose to portray ourselves to be -- at least virtually. We are crafty and manipulative creatures that conjures the real and the illusion, and as filmmaker like yourself, Gene, are are magicians. "I truly think the reason why people get insecure and demand privacy and security is the fact that we are already so involved in the technology itself that our gadgets can actually reveal how much of a person we are." Golden-- So maybe, we could fuck care do a Jennicam? A form of liberation that we hold on to nothing and thus have nothing to lose. Data are useful pawns that revitalize our illusionary tricks we may practice "self-deletion" any moment. With that said, there are always consequences that guide our execution. Amen.
Mar 25, 2014 - 03:09:22 pm
"Xbox One and Kinect offer easy and approachable ways to control your games and entertainment with your voice and gestures. By recognizing you, Xbox One can tailor personal experiences and customize content just for you." - Kinect for Xbox 360 Privacy and Online Safety FAQ Oh hey, even developers/corporations have gotten around to making devices that help them monitor you, their consumers! Reading this reminds me of an issue awhile back with new policies for the Xbox's Kinect camera; the technology allows it's users to log in through face recognition, to play games using motion capture, take photos, and communicate with other similar users through voice chat. Reading the policy reveals that the Kinect keeps track of all these data in the background during play. Some data appear to be harmless, such as the numerical figures gathered from motion tracking, as it does not generate a concrete identity profile of it's user, which may be used for improving the user's experience, or for the development of future applications. However, the machines DOES have the capability to send identity information; speech data, photos and videos of it's users can be sent to the software developers. This became a huge commotion in the gaming community for awhile. People were speculating if these information could be used to create a virtual profile, that can secretly be sold to advertisers to help promote products, kinda like how Facebook does it. The page says that there's a setting that controls the sending of information, but really, what choice do users of the Xbox have when the Kinect is a mandatory part of the system, and it becomes a situation where we ponder if we truly own these products, or if the companies are trying to own us.
Original image grabbed via The Baltimore Sun It is interesting to note how in the above image, Hasan Elahi identifies himself and his presence with a downturned arrow pointer. It is as though through this simple icon, Elahi seems to rebel against conforming to convention. The same can be said of his works which go against the grain, in terms Read more →
Mar 18, 2014 - 08:41:26 pm
[…] can check out more about Hasan’s creative process and documentation from Prakash posts.(updating […]
Mar 21, 2014 - 02:09:44 am
Excellent point concerning the notion of "anti-surveillance." By surveilling himself, as you point out, Hasan in negating the watchful eye of external surveillance. It is in a sense, a kind of camouflage that disguises his actions by exposing everything (and nothing) he is doing. It is a reverse critique, the use of surveillance as a way of undermining its practice. It is interesting to note how he has transformed this subversive practice into installations that can infiltrate the gallery or museum space. He is thus transforming his own surveillance into an object of art as yet another way of defying the powers that be.
Mar 22, 2014 - 11:31:49 pm
I can't stop wondering about the statement where he exposed everything and yet nothing about himself. Why did the viewers think that the information is also useless? (Though i myself think that information of food and travel is useless, but that's only because they reveal a person's likes and interests, but not to an extent that it is worth paying attention to. Much like our instagram and facebook updates currently) Were there significance in any of the objects he posted or was it merely objectified as an art installation? I do think it is a very clever response from him as a suspected terrorist. By giving up all his data, he managed to turn the tables somewhat yet in a way mock the system brilliantly
Mar 24, 2014 - 11:14:07 pm
His work recalls that of Sophie Calle, who for one of her projects hired a private investigator to follow her and make reports about her movements and whereabouts. It would be interesting to see Elahi extend this project an incorporate an added layer of surveillance and tracking through a similar method; potentially creating a game of cat and mouse.
Aug 03, 2014 - 12:57:19 am
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It's always exciting to read articles from other authors and use something from their web sites.
Hasan Elahi at Ted In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous? Al Gore Who would imagine paranoia and fear of not having enough information could spark off an art. This is true for the case of Hasan Elahi, a New York raised artist cum an educator at Rutgers University, who was Read more →
Mar 18, 2014 - 10:46:44 am
[…] Click here to check out Nasir’s take on Elahi’s work. […]
Mar 20, 2014 - 06:59:03 pm
Who is surveillling whom? That is a great question. In a sense, Hasan Elahi is making the point that we are all surveilling ourselves, as well as each other. And not just in covert ways, but through entirely public channels: social media, blogs, gps maps, etc. We have become a global society of surveillance and Elahi has tapped into this phenomenon by giving up his data willingly and profusely on a daily basis. And yes, you are right, it is excessive, it is a full time job! If you follow Hasan's daily path, you'll see a steady stream of imagery released on Facebook, his Website, which in turn is shaped into large installations. It is an unceasing flow of information: not just a project of Hasan Elahi, but one that many of us participate through our own media channels.
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:21:45 pm
"So who is surveilling who now?" This whole process is like one never-ending circle jerk with both parties involved. While this is more along the lines of invasion of privacy to access data, it also brings up to mind the idea of how surveillance has become a form of entertainment. For example, livestreamers on blogging platforms often livestream themselves to a wide audience. Even something like a static webcam shot of animals doing their thing gets huge tracking numbers in terms of the number of active followers. I guess it just goes to show how much we enjoy watching other people, and yet how the majority of us do not enjoy being watched by others without our own knowledge.
PostSecret - Hows it a secret if it's on the web? A place which gathers postcards, where people from around the world mail in, to communicate their deepest darkest secrets, to an audience they don't know. The website PostSecret presents itself as a blog, which gives individuals a chance to convey their struggles with everyday, through text and images, becoming anonymous Read more →
Mar 20, 2014 - 01:28:43 am
Interesting point about the authenticity of PostSecret missives. This reflects on the larger issue of whether or not the data people give up is truthful, fabricated, performative, or perhaps just a joke. How do we trust online information if we can't be sure of it's source? How do we trust online communications if the identity is not established? Has it become too easy to reshape one's identity, as we learned with the popular comment that even a dog can communicate via the Internet (if one wants to pose as such). So it seems there is a fine line between the confessional and the illusory via the Internet.
During the lecture, there was a question of whether the timestamp on my blog post affected me, to which I responded that it did not, since date and time are very neutral aspects to me, and possibly due to the prevalence of it in blogging, phone messaging, as well as other social network platforms, it seemed like standard protocol. However, there Read more →
Mar 20, 2014 - 03:06:47 am
You focused in on a very important understanding of how we gauge the "comfort factor" in terms of giving up our data. What I have drawn from your commentary, is that when we have control of disseminating information, such as the ability to save or publish a blog post, we don't mind relinquishing information. But when we lose this control, such as in Whatsapp, we feel violated in a sense. Giving up one's data is a kind of negotiation with the rest of the world. We shape our communication and then decide if and when we are ready to have it enter the public sphere. This is different, say, than when we click on an "OK" button in Facebook, and we have no idea what we are giving up, where it is going, and who is going to see it. We know that when we publish a blog post in Wordpress, we have vetted the information and have made the decision to let go of it. We know exactly when we are giving up. But in cases where this line is ambiguous, it doesn't feel comfortable: that is the precisely the dilemma.
Mar 23, 2014 - 02:11:37 pm
Ah, timestamping. It also reminds me of Facebook messaging, where you can tell exactly what time the person you sent the message to was received and seen. People could no longer avoid "having seen" the messages since such timestamping was non-existent before. But now that it's in use, I'm sure there have been instances where people get "seenzoned" (i.e. you know that your friend saw your Facebook message but he or she does not reply back). It becomes a funny and also a rather uncomfortable situation to be in. I wonder if the duo behind the Life Sharing project ever had second-thoughts about pulling the plug prematurely and whether they ever felt uncomfortable with the idea that someone out there could be reading and using their data. I can't imagine how they managed to live with that for the 3 years they ran this project before eventually pulling the plug. Like what you mentioned, the permission of the individual is important. Even when we give permission to websites and external third party apps to use our information, just how much of our information is being extracted and for what purposes are they being used for still remains murky. Imagine if our private folders and information stored on online storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive were not really private... We entrust the Cloud with so much of our personal data that we have ultimately opened up our lives to Machines.
Mar 23, 2014 - 09:31:53 pm
This is precisely the issue that Life Sharing raised: we don't really know if any of our data is private, even the so-called secure data we store in Dropbox, etc. In actuality, we place our data in the cloud where corporate interests are data mining for their own interests. Life Sharing questioned the trust we place in our networked systems, and how this trust can be undermined, so to speak.
Stelarc and his cyborg hand writing the word "evolution" It's been a few weeks since the class went for the talk by Stellar. Stelarc has been a inspiration for me due to his passionate art of exploring the limitations and capabilities of the human body. His work is a fusion of his body and machines that assist his body in Read more →
Mar 24, 2014 - 01:50:42 pm
So do I adore him! His enthusiasm about interface sex was emancipating when he talked about interest in his third ear could be extended to the rest of his body. I really like the physical manifestation of his idea on embodiment life-binding contract that is abandoning the "sack of skin" and "squishy organs". Such well-endowed human-machine, groundbreaking forbidden love for prosthetics!
Mar 25, 2014 - 02:32:50 am
There's this video I watched a few years ago, titled The Eyeborg Documentary; It had a film maker that had a prosthetic camera eye, and detailed his journey to interview others who have had their body parts replaced with robotics. It makes us wonder about the possibilities - Right now we may be able to replace lost limbs, but in the future, it may come to a point where these replacements become augmentations; To be able to move faster, and become stronger. Then comes a time when we would ask or selves, if we would willingly give up our bodies, for such enhancements; Plastic surgery has become a recognized practice - will human augmentation be next in line? (Incidentally I came across the vid because of this video game. It was a joint research with the game's developers; Here's a fake trailer they made to promote the game.)
Hole In Space was an installation piece presented to the public in 1980. It was based on satellite video technology and life size projection of images screened at Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in New York City, and The Broadway department store in Los Angeles. See the installation below: The work was both technologically and conceptually ahead of its time. The Read more →
Dara Birnbaum – Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978) This video piece shows the constant transition from the Superhero's alias Diana Prince into Wonder Woman herself. By isolating and repeating the moment of transformation - spinning figure, arms outstretched. The visual aesthetic of the piece is simply a beautiful kaleidoscope of colours and forms for the eyes, especially for for those who havent really heard of HD, 3D or Read more →
'This is a glimpse of a video landscape of tomorrow when you will be able to switch on any TV station on the earth and TV guides will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.' Paik’s introductory statement stands for the tape’s compositional principle and message – global channel zapping, in 1973 a visionary precursor of subsequent developments. The Read more →
In this day and age, the majority of us are familiar with the World Wide Web. We already have a conventional idea of what websites are, how websites are supposed to look like and how they can be navigated. We go through a preset array of motions, scrolling and clicking our way through this digital terrain, as we traverse bytes Read more →
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