Never unplug

Life sharing – Exhibitionism VS Voyeurism

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
Never unplug

I personally feel that the project is interesting not only because people are interested in voyeurism, but beyond that is a curiosity of seeing how other people live without having to live the repercussion themselves. I compare this to that of catharsis when people watched a film or play. But yet I find this is contradicting because in film and TV, what is shown on screen has been carefully edited to omit long and unnecessary details that doesn’t facilitate the story. When a camera is set up within a house, there is no cut and edit to drive a story. Story becomes an unknown element, characters become an unexplored territory. I think there is also a heightened sense of reality when viewers can access their mails that connect the artists to the rest of the world.

A chance to enter the mind of a person, as well as live them through? Yes please!

I also wonder about the extent as to how much data a person can give out. For this project when social media website didn’t exist, email was the closest thing to human connection and communication on the internet (Of course, there were also ICQ and msn messenger) However, if the project is to be carried out currently, will anyone be comfortable in sharing his whole virtual life over on the internet? This include google search results, facebook chat history, emails, transaction history etc.

Eva and Franco Mattes are right in stating that personal computers can show a person’s thought and personality, but the thought to truly make them public and accessible is still a scary thought. What if they also access your webcam and can fully see you while you are using your own personal computer? 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.


As for their decision to reveal their locations with GPS, it is interesting to note that the current trend of social media have also give rise to the same actions. People usually tag themselves on Facebook (Foursquare) or Instagram or Twitter about their whereabouts and what they are doing. It seems like this generation not only get comfortable removing privacy, but they also deem it to be an important part of life – To show the world their own lives and how they are enjoying it. During the lecture there were also concerns about whether or not a person will be portraying something different as they are aware of others’ voyeurism. This is like documentary film where the presence of a camera can alter the subjects’ behavior. In social media this is very apparent, as people are eager to present their best  (or worst) moments to accentuate their lives.

The artists monitored the traffic of the people who accessed their files and is aware of the demographics involved.  I suppose this gives them a sense of satisfaction or encouragement to keep going. However I feel that they also accomplished, psychologically, what normal exhibitionists couldn’t do in a real life setting. The artists are able to tell which of their files and datas are popular, and viewers no longer merely view their data; They can even manipulate them or keep a copy of their own.

In all, life sharing provides an interesting commentary of the experience of sharing your personal data on computer. Even though the connection is not at all physical,  the emotional and psychcological complexity of such an act can make people uneasy. It is now for us to ponder whether or not the third space has now become an exclusive space that no one would prefer anyone to intrude.

4 thoughts on “Life sharing – Exhibitionism VS Voyeurism”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.”


    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.

  4. “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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *