Are we always alone when we think we are?

October 6, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

NYCThis is the premise of a new film that has me very, very intrigued. It’s intriguing because it’s a film shot from the point of view of surveillance cameras and puts us on the other side of the camera – it takes us on a voyeuristic journey, nosing around in other people’s lives, watching their embarrassing moments. It captures the spectator view of today’s society really – we are all spectators watching people embarrass themselves on reality TV shows; checking out the latest photos of celebrities wearing no knickers; zooming in on some poor sod who’s having plastic surgery on TV in an effort to look 10 years younger. We are sometimes shocked, or we snigger at someone’s mistake, or we cringe when the up close and personal shots of surgery pop onto the screen. But above all, we are titillated. You’re observing things that perhaps are best left private. But privacy is not an option today; not when you think that in the US, for example, there are 30 million surveillance cameras that generate more than 4 billion hours of footage every week. The average American runs the chance of being snapped by a webcam 200 times per day: in department stores, on the streets…even in changing rooms. The cameras snoop; they are relentless.

Wait a minute: did I say changing rooms? yep, sure did. I have often wondered whether the unblinking eye captures you as you’re undressing in a changing room. I do look out for them I must admit. This is a place where we think we are alone – admiring our image or berating ourselves for not losing a few kilos.

But perhaps not: the website for the film, Look, has posted a number of videos of people caught unawares, in private moments. If you look at this video of a woman undressing in a changing room, then you might hyperventilate at the thought that you too could one day be captured undressing. If you choose to look at it, you will probably have a sense that you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing; observing an individual’s private moment; but maybe you can’t resist looking. WARNING: do not look at it if you think you might find it offensive.

But there are good aspects to surveillance cameras – I’d be the first to admit this despite my carry on about how we are in the grip of surveillance. Here’s a video from the Look site – WARNING – someone dies in this video, so think about it before you choose to watch it. This is our society in its dark moments. The alleged shooter was identified, that’s the positive part; but again, we are participating in someone’s life when we watch it, really someone’s last moments on Earth.

These two videos to me show the polar extremes of the surveillance society – voyeuristic yet protective. The film, Look, focuses on people’s lives as captured by surveillance cameras and shows the things we all get up to when we don’t think anyone is watching. The film follows several characters whose lives all intersect. Writer-director, Adam Rifkin, didn’t use real webcam footage. Rather he used unknown actors and placed the cameras in locations and angles where real surveillance cameras might be placed. He then degraded the film in post-production to make it look like real webcam footage.

The site also has a surveillance map and is encouraging people in the US to add to the map the location of any webcam they spot. What a lovely twist – citizens spying on the webcams! And you can watch a powerful trailer of the film, Look, on the Threat Level blog.

Source: Threat Level

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Entry filed under: CCTV, Privacy, Public webcams, Surveillance society.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Walt Duboff  |  December 8, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Don’t miss this movie! LOOK is both entertaining and disturbing, funny and heartwrenching all all at the same time. Kudos to Rifkin for continuing to be an original voice in Hollywwod where most films are predictable and forgettable. Give LOOK a look! You won’t be sorry.

    Reply
  • 2. LiveJasmin  |  April 12, 2008 at 5:06 am

    thx, this is awesome !

    Reply

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